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Health officials warn against eating too many carp from upper part of James River

No more than two meals a month of carp taken from the Upper James River


ALLEGHANY COUNTY, Va. – Love fishing along the James River?

If you’re catching carp, health officials say limit how much you eat.

On Tuesday, the Virginia Department of Health issued a fish advisory that stretches from the head of the James near Iron Gate to Balcony Falls Dam downstream of Glasgow, near the Maury River.

People are being told to limit themselves to just two meals a month of carp caught in that stretch of the James.

Recent fish tissue sample results from the Upper James River in 2018 and 2019 show polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) levels in carp exceed the amount considered safe for long-term human consumption.

Eating fish that contain PCBs may increase your risk of cancer, according to VDH.

Over time, PCBs build up in fish tissue to levels that are many times greater than levels in the surrounding water.

That’s why eating carp from this area may pose a health risk, but swimming or waterskiing is safe.

VDH recommends the following precautions to reduce any potential harmful effects from eating contaminated fish:

  • Eat smaller, younger fish (within the legal limits). Younger fish are less likely to contain harmful levels of contaminants than larger, older fish.
  • Eat fewer or smaller servings of fish.
  • Try to eat different species of fish from various sources (i.e., different creeks, rivers and streams).
  • Discard the fat drippings that cook out of the fish and avoid deep frying.

About the Author:

Jeff Williamson arrived at WSLS 10 in March 2016.