ADPH issues fish consumption advisory

Published 8:39 pm Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Each year, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) updates fish consumption advisories. This year, specific Butler County waterbodies are among those for which citizens are advised to avoid consumption of fish caught there.

The ADPHS Alabama Fish Consumption Advisories 2023 lists Alabama waterbodies currently under advisory. According to the report, Persimmon Creek, located on Alabama Highway 106 West of Georgiana, is listed as containing fish with high levels of mercury contamination.

Citizens fishing for consumption are advised to avoid all species caught in Persimmon Creek. No current advisories were issued for waterbodies in Crenshaw and Lowndes Counties.

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Butler and Crenshaw counties are part of the ADPH Area 5, which includes the area of southeast Alabama known as the Perdido-Escambia/Choctawhatchee/Pea/Chipola/Chattahoochee Basin, from the southeast corner of Randolph County to Mobile County. Lowndes County is located within Area 4, the Alabama/Coosa/Tallapoosa Basin. According to Dr. John Guarisco with ADPH, the agency compiles the annual advisory report based on data collected by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) the preceding fall. The Tennessee Valley Authority, ADEM, and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources each collected samples of specific fish species for analysis from among the waterbodies throughout Alabama in 2022, capturing 492 samples at 40 collection stations.

Samples were analyzed by ADPH to determine whether any contained contaminants which may contribute to potential human health effects. After analysis, advisories are issued for specific species in specific waterbodies. In reservoirs, advisories apply to waters as far as boats can travel upstream or to full pool elevations.

Bodies where fish are shown to contain contaminants are monitored and new advisories are issued once a safe number of meals of that species of fish may be consumed in a given period, such as in a week or month, without potential health threats. A meal consists of 6 ounces of cooked fish or 8 ounces of raw fish.

Guarisco said advisories are issued as guidance to individuals who wish to eat fish they catch from various waterbodies throughout the state.

“No regulations ban the consumption of any of the fish caught within the state, nor is there a risk of an acute toxic episode that could result from consuming any of the fish containing the contaminants for which the state has conducted analyses,” Guarisco wrote in a release to The Greenville Advocate.

Advisories can be issued for a specific species or all fish species within a body of water. Excessive levels of a contaminant in a specific species result in an advisory for only that species but excessive levels found in multiple species result in a Do Not Eat Any advisory.

Guarisco noted that consumption of any fish from a waterbody where a Do Not Eat Any advisory is in place may put consumers at risk for harm from the contaminant.

“If a species is listed in the advisory, it is prudent to assume that similar species with similar feeding habits should be consumed with caution,” Guarisco wrote. “For example, if black crappie is listed and white crappie is not, because they are in the same family, all crappie would fall under the listed advisory.”

New and updated consumption advisories issued for the 34 bodies of water tested can be found on the ADPH website: