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PCBs found in fish in Badin Lake

Este pagina en espanolRelease Date: February 11, 2009
Contact: Carol Schriber, 919-733-9190

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Division of Public Health has issued a fish consumption advisory for Badin Lake between Stanly and Montgomery counties. Elevated levels of PCBs have been found in large mouth bass and catfish in Badin Lake. 

As statewide and regional mercury advisories for these fish have been in place since 2006, Public Health officials’ fish consumption advice will not change.  Because of the PCB and mercury contamination, pregnant women, nursing women and children under age 15 should not eat any largemouth bass or catfish from the lake. Other people should not eat more than one meal a week of catfish or large mouth bass from Badin Lake.

PCBs are chemicals that used to be used as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors and other electrical equipment. They were released into the environment during manufacturing and through improper storage or disposal of old electrical equipment. They are no longer made in the U.S. but persist in the environment. The fish testing in Badin Lake did not address the source of PCB contamination.

PCBs can cause anemia; acne-like skin conditions; damage to the liver, stomach or thyroid gland; changes in the immune system or reproductive system; and behavioral problems. In infants and children, PCBs may cause reduced birth weight, motor-skill problems, impaired short-term memory and impaired immune response.

The N.C. Division of Public Health analyzed Badin Lake environmental data and fish sampling data at the request of Stanly County officials. The fish were tested for PCBs and PAHs (polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons), both of which can cause adverse health effects. No PAHs were detected in the fish, but concentrations of PCBs in some catfish and large mouth bass were greater than the public health level of concern, prompting the fish consumption advisory.

Fish consumption advisories are posted on the N.C. Public Health website at www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/fish.