Fish Consumption and Swimming Advisories

 

Human health protection through fish consumption and swimming advisories in Louisiana.

 

A complete listing of Louisiana fishing and swimming advisories are provided below. Parishes are identified in parentheses.

  • Fish Consumption and/or Swimming Advisories Due to Mercury or Organic Chemical Contamination 
  • Note: One meal is considered to be one half pound of fish.

  • Swimming Advisories Due to Fecal Coliforms 

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (LDHH) Health/Fish Consumption Advisories Program, in conjunction with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), issues fish consumption and swimming advisories to help ensure the safe enjoyment of Louisiana 's water resources. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) are also consulted during the course of advisory development and dissemination. An Interagency Agreement between the four agencies was agreed upon July 9, 2012.  

Louisiana 's fish consumption advisories are developed using a risk based public health assessment method which establishes consumption levels designed to prevent adverse effects. This approach is used to determine safe consumption levels for different segments of the population. For example, children and pregnant or breast-feeding women are often considered separately in developing consumption advisories because these populations are generally considered to be at greater risk from consumption of contaminated seafood. Therefore, consumption advisories will often be stricter for these populations.

In most cases, fish are sampled by the LDEQ in areas of suspected chemical contamination such as near facilities that have experienced spills or had poor wastewater management practices in the past. Where such problems are found LDEQ is active in remediating contaminated areas where this is appropriate and in correcting the actions that caused the contamination to occur. Due to the widespread occurrence of mercury in Louisiana and the nation, popular fishing areas and many other water bodies statewide have been sampled to determine the extent of risks due to mercury. Procedures developed by the LDHH, LDEQ, LDWF and LDAF are then implemented to determine if a risk to human health exists. If it is determined there is a need for a health advisory, press releases are prepared for public dissemination of the information. Advisories are also published in LDWF's annual fishing regulations. However, because this is produced once a year it is likely that new advisories have been established following release of the regulations. The document, "Protocol for Issuing Public Health Advisories for Chemical Contaminants in Recreationally Caught Fish and Shellfish," presents details about how fish advisories are developed in Louisiana. This document is also available on the LDHH website at: http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/offices/page.asp?id=205&detail=5749.

The Tissue Screening Level (TSL) document is a companion document to Protocol for Issuing Public Health Advisories for Chemical Contaminants in Recreationally Caught Fish and Shellfish. This document provides screening levels for commonly encountered contaminants in seafood tissues. The TSL were developed based on exposure assumptions used in the advisory process. These levels are not intended to be applied as regulatory standards but rather are being proposed as a tool to assist regulated parties in identifying acceptable analytical detection limits for chemicals of concern (COC) in fish/shellfish tissue, evaluating sediment remedial strategies and alternatives, evaluating biomonitoring data, etc.

Swimming advisories are generally established due to fecal coliform contamination of a water body. However, a limited number of swimming advisories have been based on chemical contamination of water or sediments. Fecal coliform contamination of a water body can be caused by a number of possible sources including absent or inadequate sewage systems, poorly maintained septic tanks, direct sewage discharges from camps, and pasture and animal holding area runoff. Efforts are being made to correct these problems statewide, particularly in the Tangipahoa River basin, where LDEQ's Nonpoint Source Program has assisted local citizens in their efforts to restore the river for canoeing and tubing.

For more information regarding mercury and other fish consumption advisories contact the LDHH hotline at 1-888-293-7020, or call the DEQ at (225) 219-3590.

Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality 602 N. Fifth Street Baton Rouge, LA 70802
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