As fish spend their entire lives in water, chemicals that occur within their aquatic environments can be incorporated into their tissues over time. Contamination of aquatic resources including freshwater, estuarine, and marine fish and shellfish species have been documented for heavy metals, pesticides, and other complex organic compounds such as PCBs. Fish tissue monitoring data is primarily used by the NC Division of Public Health for human risk assessments related to fish consumption, and when necessary for issuing fish consumption advisories in North Carolina.
Fish tissue collections typically occur in larger water bodies of the state where boat
electrofishing methods can be safely and efficiently applied. Contaminant analysis samples include fish species from mid and upper trophic levels that are routinely consumed by the fishing public. Available statewide data include Fish Tissue Metals Results by Basin and limited historic organic fish contaminants data including PCB congeners and legacy pesticides (see below).
Contact Jeff DeBerardinis at 919 743 8473 for questions regarding the NC DWR Fish Tissue Contaminants Monitoring Program.