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September 23, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Ore., Wash., issue Columbia River fish warning

JONATHAN J. COOPER
Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. — Health officials in Oregon and Washington said Monday that people should protect themselves against mercury and PCB contamination by limiting consumption of certain fish species from a 150-mile section of the Columbia River.

The Oregon Health Authority and the Washington Department of Health said people should eat no more than one meal a week of resident fish — those that live year-round in the same place — between Bonneville and McNary dams. Resident species in the Columbia include bass, bluegill, yellow perch, crappie, walleye, carp, catfish, suckers and sturgeon.

A meal is about the size and thickness of one’s hand.

Officials also recommend not eating any resident fish taken between Bonneville Dam and Ruckel Creek 1 mile upstream.

The advisory does not apply to migratory fish, such as salmon and steelhead, because they spend most of their time at sea.

“We’ve suspected for quite some time that there may be contamination in the Columbia River, and the thing that was missing was measured data,” said Dave Farrer, public health toxicologist for the Oregon Health Authority.

Only recently have researchers had the resources available to measure toxicity in Columbia River fish, he said.

The states said they’re unsure how long the advisory will last.

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