Fish in Connecticut’s waters can be harmful to people’s health

Adrienne Fernandez

For many people in Connecticut, fishing is a favorite past-time. However, some warning should be heeded if one is to eat what one catches.
According to the Connecticut Department of Health, many of the fish in Connecticut’s waterways are unsuitable for consumption. It saddens me that fish, a healthy source of protein, and a favorite meal for many, can be deemed so unhealthy to eat due to contamination.
There are two categories of risk that people fall under – high and low risk.
People who fall under the high-risk category include women who are pregnant, women who plan to become pregnant within a year, and children under the age of six. The low risk category includes everyone else.
Those who fall into the high-risk level should limit their intake of fish caught from Connecticut waters to once a month. Everyone else should limit his or her fish intake from Connecticut waters to no more than once a week.
There are three major chemicals of concern regarding the contamination: mercury, PCBs, and Chlordane.
The first chemical, mercury, is a toxic chemical which builds up in the body, causing damage to the nervous system and kidneys. The effect of this chemical on pregnant women is the possibility of giving birth to a child who will be slow to develop and learn.
The second chemical is PCBs (or polychlorinated biphenyls), which also build up in the body, causing harm to young children and the unborn children of women who are pregnant. This chemical has also been known to cause cancer in animals.
The third chemical is Chlordane, which is a highly toxic pesticide that can cause cancer as well as being harmful during pregnancy.
These chemicals enter the water as a result of chemical spills and mercury in the air.
For those who are in the high-risk category, there are some other types of fish that you should refrain from eating as well.
Your intake of canned tuna should be one to two meals per week (Note: you should choose light tuna cause it is the lowest in mercury). Fresh or frozen tuna should not be eaten more than once a month.
Lastly, those in the high-risk category should not eat swordfish or shark of any kind.
If you have any health questions or concerns call the Department of Health at (860)509-7742 or for fishing questions in Connecticut, call (860) 424-3474.