SPOKANE – Washington residents eat more fish than the national average, yet the state’s water quality standards are based on the assumption that people here eat one 7-ounce serving of fish per month, according to a toxicologist with the state Department of Health.
The state has begun the process of reviewing fish consumption levels, with the ultimate goal of tougher water quality standards to protect the health of the fish-consuming public, The Spokesman-Review reported Monday.
From salmon and steelhead to walleye and lake trout, fish is a staple of many residents’ diets. As a result, residents are potentially exposed to unhealthy levels of mercury, lead, PCBs and dioxins — waterborne toxins that accumulate in fish tissue and can hurt brain development in fetuses and young children.
“The paradox of eating fish is that it provides benefits but also has risks,” said toxicologist David McBride. “Our current discharge standards don’t protect you.
“Washington uses one of the lowest fish consumption rates in the nation to set water quality standards, but we have some of the highest fish-consuming populations in the nation,” he said.