The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has issued an advisory on carp consumption due to elevated polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in carp caught in the Upper James River.
Recent fish tissue sample results from the Upper James River in 2018 and 2019 show PCBs levels in carp exceed the amount considered safe for long-term human consumption.
VDH advises the consumption of no more than two meals a month of carp taken from the Upper James River. The advisory stretches from the head of the James near Iron Gate (at the confluence of Jackson River and Cowpasture River) to Balcony Falls Dam downstream of Glasgow (near the Maury River). For additional details, visit the VDH fish consumption advisory page at fishadvisories.vdh.virginia.gov.
Fish is an excellent source of protein and other nutrients. Most people’s fish consumption does not cause a health concern. Eating fish that contain PCBs may increase your risk of cancer.
Fish consumption advisories alert people to contaminants present in affected fish species but do not prohibit people from eating fish. Because of the increased health risk to the very young and women who are pregnant or who may soon become pregnant, nursing mothers and young children should not eat fish from this advisory.
Over time, PCBs builds up in fish tissue to levels that are many times greater than levels in the surrounding water. Therefore, while eating carp from the area under advisory may pose a health risk, swimming or waterskiing is safe.
VDH recommends the following precautions to reduce any potential harmful effects from eating contaminated fish:
• Eat smaller, younger fish (within the legal limits). Younger fish are less likely to contain harmful levels of contaminants than larger, older fish.
• Eat fewer or smaller servings of fish.
• Try to eat different species of fish from various sources (i.e., different creeks, rivers and streams).
• Discard the fat drippings that cooks out of the fish, and avoid deep frying.
For more information about fish consumption advisories, including frequently asked questions, go to www.vdh.virginia.gov.