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DEQ warns public about eating fish from some Oklahoma lakes

Posted at 5:54 AM, Mar 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-11 08:29:21-04

TULSA, Okla. — Spring break is right around corner.

As you’re making plans with your family, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality wants you to be aware about eating fish from some Oklahoma lakes.

Several have been added to the list of lakes with consumption advisories for mercury.

Ten Oklahoma lakes including Bixhoma in Bixby, Okmulgee and Dripping Springs near Okmulgee, and Sahoma in Sapulpa, now on the list for fish consumption advisories.

“We have expanded our mercury and fish program, we have been able to go out and take samples from more lakes," said Erin Hatfield with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. "So that’s why there are more lakes that have had advisories.”

Hatfield said it’s important to know that it’s the fish being tested and not the water.

“You can feel perfectly safe going to these lakes and going tubing or boating but it is an issue with the mercury that accumulates in the tissue of the fish,” said Hatfield.

Some lakes the DEQ have tested show no mercury issues like Hugo Lake, where there’s no restriction on the amount of fish you can eat under seven inches long.

"But for the sensitive population, we only recommend two meals per month if that black crappy is seven inches long or over," said Hatfield.

Women of childbearing age and children up to the age of 14 fall into the sensitive population.

But Hatfield said it’s still safe for them to continue to eat fish from the lakes as long as they’re paying attention to the recommended guidelines.

“Our focus has been mainly on making sure that people have these advisories, that they have these recommendations so that they can make smart choices while they’re here in Oklahoma fishing at our lakes,” said Hatfield.

In the next few weeks, the DEQ will have booklets available to the public with all of the lakes listed on the advisory, so you can make informed decisions about the food you’re eating.

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