The Texas Department of State Health Services Monday issued a fish consumption advisory for portions of the Neches River Basin, including Sam Rayburn Reservoir and B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir.
The advisory covers six species of fish caught between the Texas Highway 7 bridge west of Lufkin downstream to the U.S. Highway 96 bridge near Evadale and both reservoirs. It was issued after laboratory testing of fish samples found elevated levels of mercury and dioxins.
DSHS recommends people limit or avoid consumption of these species because eating contaminated fish can be a health hazard.
Women of childbearing age and children younger than 12 should not eat the following fish affected: Blue catfish larger than 30 inches; flathead catfish gar (all species); largemouth bass greater than 16 inches; smallmouth buffalo; and spotted bass greater than six inches.
Officials also warn that women past childbearing age and adult men, should not eat the smallmouth buffalo.
This group should also limit consumption to no more than two 8-ounce meals per month of the blue catfish, spotted bass and largemouth bass, and no more than one 8-ounce meal per month of flathead catfish and gar.
DSHS recommends children under 12 and women who are nursing, pregnant or who may become pregnant avoid eating the affected species because the nervous systems of unborn and young children are particularly susceptible to the health effects of toxins. Previous advisories for the Neches River area based on high mercury levels had recommended children limit consumption of particular fish. Recent testing prompted DSHS to recommend children under 12 not eat the affected fish at all.
DSHS officials said elevated levels of mercury and dioxins in fish do not pose a health risk for people swimming or participating in other water recreation activities.