Information About Eating Fish From French Meadows and Hell Hole Reservoirs

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Why did OEHHA develop the advisory for eating fish from French Meadows and Hell Hole Reservoirs?

OEHHA’s advisories for French Meadows and Hell Hole Reservoirs are based on findings of mercury in fish.  The lakes are located in Placer County, northeast of Auburn and Foresthill.  Advice for French Meadows and Hell Hole Reservoirs was developed together because anglers commonly fish at both locations.  These advisories are part of an ongoing effort by OEHHA to provide safe-eating advice for fish in different California water bodies.  OEHHA used information from two studies to develop the guidelines for eating fish from French Meadows and Hell Hole Reservoirs.

Why should I eat fish?

  • Fish are an important part of a healthy, well-balanced diet.  The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish each week.

 

  • Fish provide a good source of protein, vitamins, and are a primary dietary source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.  Eating low-contaminant fish while pregnant may help the baby’s brain develop.

Which chemicals are of concern for people eating fish from French Meadows and Hell Hole Reservoirs?

  • Mercury
    • Mercury is a metal that comes from natural sources, mining, and air fallout from burning coal and other fuels.
  • Too much methylmercury, the form of mercury in fish, can harm the brain, especially in babies and children.  Mothers can pass methylmercury to their babies during pregnancy.
  • Because babies and children are especially sensitive to mercury, OEHHA has one set of advice for the amount of mercury-containing fish that women age 18-45 and children should eat, and separate advice for women 46 years and older and men 18 years and older.

How did OEHHA determine the guidelines for fish from French Meadows and Hell Hole Reservoirs?

  • OEHHA compared chemical levels in fish from French Meadows and Hell Hole Reservoirs to acceptable levels of human exposure. 
  • OEHHA’s consumption guidelines balance the risks and benefits of fish consumption. 

How much mercury was found in fish from French Meadows Reservoir?

  • Brown Trout (any length) had medium levels of mercury.
  • Crayfish and Rainbow Trout had low levels of mercury. 

How much mercury was found in fish from Hell Hole Reservoir?

  • Brown Trout over 16 inches in length and Lake Trout had high levels of mercury. 
  • Brown Trout 16 inches or less in length, crayfish and Kokanee Salmon had medium levels of mercury.

What does OEHHA recommend for people who want to eat fish from French Meadows Reservoir?

  • OEHHA recommends the amount and type of fish that can be eaten each week as “servings”.  A serving is 8 ounces prior to cooking (about the size and thickness of your hand for fish fillets).  Give children smaller servings.

 

  • Women 18-45 years and children 1-17 years
    • Can eat:
      • 1 serving per week of Brown Trout (any length), or
      • 2 servings per week of crayfish (8 ounce serving prior to cooking), or
      • 3 servings per week of Rainbow Trout

 

  • Women over 45 years and men age 18 years and older
    • Can eat:
      • 3 servings per week of Brown Trout (any length), or
      • 7 servings per week of crayfish or Rainbow Trout

What does OEHHA recommend for people who want to eat fish from Hell Hole Reservoir?

  • OEHHA recommends the amount and type of fish that can be eaten each week as “servings”.  A serving is 8 ounces prior to cooking (about the size and thickness of your hand for fish fillets).  Give children smaller servings.

 

  • Women 18-45 years and children 1-17 years
    • Should not eat Brown Trout over 16 inches in length or Lake Trout
    • Can eat:
      • 1 serving per week of Brown Trout 16 inches or less in length or crayfish or Kokanee Salmon

 

  • Women over 45 years and men age 18 years and older
    • Should not eat Brown Trout over 16 inches in length
    • Can eat:
      • 1 serving per week of Lake Trout, or
      • 2 servings per week of crayfish (8 ounce serving prior to cooking), or
      • 3 servings per week of Brown Trout 16 inches or less in length or crayfish or Kokanee Salmon

What else can I do to protect my health and my family’s?

  • Eat a variety of fish.
  • Eat smaller (younger) fish of legal size.
  • Eat only the skinless fillet or meat portion of fish and shellfish you catch.
  • Thoroughly cook the fish, allow the juice to drain away.
  • Learn about OEHHA’s guidelines for eating sport fish in California:
    • Visit www.oehha.ca.gov (click on “FISH”, then “Fish Advisories”), or call OEHHA at (916) 323-7319 or (510) 622-3170
    • Check the Freshwater or Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklets from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, or visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations

Chemical Reference

Mercury (Inorganic)