New tests show one of the most popular sport fish on Columbia also contain high contamination levels. Bass carry elevated quantities of a variety of toxic chemicals.
Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality’s first comprehensive tests on the mid-Columbia from Bonneville Dam upstream to McNary Dam found particularly high contamination near Hood River.
Scientists caught bass and sucker fish, then cut them in filets and tested the tissue for toxic substances.
Lab tests found elevated levels of mercury, cancer-causing dioxins, PCBs and several chlorinated pesticides that are no longer sold.
“Most of them were banned in the middle part of the 1980s,” said Aaron Borisenko, DEQ’s water quality monitoring manager. “And yet they’re so persistent they’re still showing up in the fish tissue today.”
Borisenko said bass accumulate these contaminants in their fat at a higher rate than salmon. “If you’re consuming the fish you want to be cognizant of how much you’re eating.”
The Oregon Health Authority will study the new DEQ tests and decide whether to issue a fishing advisory.
(This was first reported for OPB News.)
Share your experiences as part of EarthFix's Public Insight Network.
Join our Public Insight Network!