The state Department of Health is recommending the public limit their consumption of sturgeon caught from the lower Columbia River.
The health advisory comes as fish tissue data shows contaminant levels of polychlorinated biphenyls — or PCBs — at levels above Washington state’s screening values. In Washington, the advisory applies to any fish caught in the Columbia River between the Bonneville Dam and the mouth of the Columbia.
DOH recommends that most adults should not eat more than eight meals of sturgeon a month, and no more than seven for pregnant women, nursing mothers and children. A meal is considered a serving size of sturgeon around the size of the palm of the hand.
The Oregon Health Authority also issued an advisory for the lower Columbia River and the lower Willamette River.
According to DOH, PCBs can exist in sediment where sturgeon feed, which can lead to accumulations in their fat-rich meat. Eating too many fish contaminated with PCBs can have negative health effects including damage to organs, the nervous system and potential learning and behavioral organs, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
Infants and young children are the most vulnerable to these negative health effects, according to DOH.