Posted: Oct 17, 2013 3:22 PM by Mark Thorsell - MTN News
MISSOULA - State officials are warning folks not to eat northern pike or rainbow trout caught in the Clark Fork River between Missoula and Paradise - a 105 mile stretch of water.
A "do not eat" advisory was issued for northern pike - and a "four meal per month" limit for rainbow trout - from the Clark Fork's confluence with the Bitterroot River to the confluence with the Flathead River, near Paradise.
The advisories were issued by the Montana departments of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Environmental Quality and Public Health and Human Services in response to contaminant investigations in fish immediately downstream of the Smurfit Stone Container mill site in Frenchtown.
Research done by FWP over the summer has found dioxins, furans, PCB's - "contaminants commonly associated with the pulp and paper mill industry" - in northern pike and rainbow trout taken from the river," according to a news release.
It's further noted that other species of fish from the Clark Fork River haven't been studied at this time.
State officials caution that at very high levels of exposure, the contaminants have been linked to adverse human health effects in immune and nervous systems and may be associated with birth defects. But, actual health risks to anyone who has been eating fish in this area is very low, state health officials said.
Dioxin and PCBs are classified as definite and probable human carcinogens, respectively, at high and prolonged levels of exposure. Fish consumption advisories are designed to keep exposures well below these high levels.
Northern pike had potentially dangerous levels of the three chemicals while rainbow trout had lower levels of the same contaminants.
The release adds that, "fish consumption advisories are conservative and designed to protect the most sensitive members of the population over a lifetime. In addition, the risks are based on the amount of toxins found in a raw fillet. Using normal cooking practices, and keeping only smaller fish, can reduce exposure risks."
We'll have more information on this developing story as it becomes available.
(photo courtesy Dennis Bragg)