CDPHE: Rifle Gap Reservoir, Elkhead Reservoir, Juniata Reservoir, Catamount Lake and Lake Granby added to mercury tainted waters list

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From the Denver Post (Mark Jaffe): “The health advisories — for fish including trout, northern pike and large- and small-mouth bass — cover Rifle Gap Reservoir, Elkhead Reservoir, Juniata Reservoir, Catamount Lake and Lake Granby. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued the advisories Wednesday…

“Routine sampling found that at least one fish species sampled at each site met or exceeded 0.5 parts per million of “action level” set by the state health department. Because mercury collects in body tissue, bigger fish are likely to contain more of the toxic material. The advisory generally warns pregnant women and children 6 and younger not to eat larger fish or have more than one serving a month. The main source of the mercury is coal-burning power plants, the state said, and a program is underway to reduce emissions by 90 percent by 2018.”

More coverage from the Craig Daily Press (Tom Ross):

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Division of Wildlife issued a joint news release Wednesday, alerting the public that tissue samples taken from fish in the reservoir revealed at least one largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass containing mercury levels of more than 0.5 parts per million. “Eating fish that exceed this level may cause health problems, especially for the unborn fetus and small children,” the agencies cautioned in a written release. The release explained mercury can harm developing nervous systems in fetuses and young children…

The Department of Health is advising pregnant women, nursing women and women who plan on being pregnant against eating any largemouth bass greater than 15 inches in length or smallmouth bass of any size. The advisory is extended to children 6 years or younger. In addition, the general population is cautioned not to eat more than one meal of bass from Elkhead per month. A meal is considered 8 ounces of fish for an adult and 4 ounces for a child. Less strict cautions also have been issued against northern pike and black crappie caught from Elkhead…

Airborne inorganic mercury can come from a variety of sources and typically finds its way into water bodies via precipitation. The Department of Health’s Air Pollution Control Division is in the midst of a statewide effort to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. Gunderson said the presence of elevated levels of mercury in fish is not a sign that the water in the lake they swim in is unsafe for human consumption. He added that inorganic mercury in the water column does not accumulate in humans.

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