Fish Advisory for Lake Chabot in Alameda County Offers Safe Eating Advice for Six Fish Species

Sam Delson
(916) 324-0955 (O)
(916) 764-0955 (C)

SACRAMENTO – Today, the state issued safe eating advice for six species of fish from Lake Chabot, located just north of Castro Valley and east of San Leandro in Alameda County.

The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) developed the recommendations based on the levels of mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) found in fish caught from the lake.

“Many fish have nutrients that may reduce the risk of heart disease and are an excellent source of protein,” said Dr. Lauren Zeise, director of OEHHA. “By following our guidelines for fish caught at Lake Chabot, people can safely eat fish low in chemical contaminants and enjoy the well-known health benefits of fish consumption.”

When consuming fish from Lake Chabot, women ages 18-45 and children ages 1-17 may eat seven total servings per week of Rainbow Trout, or two total servings per week of Channel Catfish or sunfish species. However, they should not eat Goldfish, black bass species, or Common Carp.

Women age 46 and older and men age 18 and older may eat seven total servings per week of Rainbow Trout or Channel Catfish, or four total servings per week of sunfish species, or two total servings per week of Goldfish, or one total serving per week of black bass species or Common Carp.

One serving is eight ounces, measured prior to cooking. For fish fillets, eight ounces is roughly the size and thickness of your hand. Children should be given smaller servings.

Mercury is a naturally occurring metal that is released into the environment from mining and burning coal. It accumulates in fish in the form of methylmercury, which can damage the brain and nervous system, especially in developing children and fetuses. Because children and fetuses are especially sensitive to mercury, OEHHA provides a separate set of recommendations specifically for children up to age 17, and women of childbearing age (age 18-45).

PCBs are a group of industrial chemicals. At high levels of exposure, they can cause health problems, including cancer. Although they were banned in the United States in the late 1970s, PCBs persist in the environment for many years and are still found in the environment from spills, leaks and improper disposal. PCBs accumulate in fish skin, fat, and some internal organs. In order to reduce exposure from PCB contaminated fish, OEHHA recommends eating only the skinless fillet (meat) portion of the fish.

Eating fish in amounts slightly greater than the advisory’s recommendations is not likely to cause health problems if it is done occasionally, such as eating fish caught during an annual vacation.

The Lake Chabot recommendations join more than 90 other OEHHA advisories that provide site-specific, health-based fish consumption advice for many of the places where people catch and eat fish in California, including lakes, rivers, bays, reservoirs, and the California coast.

The health advisory and eating advice for Lake Chabot – as well as eating guidelines for other fish species and California bodies of water – are available on OEHHA’s Fish Advisories webpage:  Pictorial versions of fish consumption advice are also available on this page in both English and Spanish.

OEHHA is the primary state entity for the assessment of risks posed by chemical contaminants in the environment. Its mission is to protect and enhance public health and the environment by scientific evaluation of risks posed by hazardous substances.