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Mercury found in Western N.C. fish

High levels of toxic mercury have been found in walleye caught in the Western N.C. lakes of Santeetlah and Fontana, prompting a state health warning.

Mercury occurs naturally but is released into the environment by burning coal, such as in power plants. When it falls into water, it can accumulate in fish. Eating high-mercury fish over time can pose health risks, especially for children and developing fetuses.

N.C. health officials warned pregnant women, women who may become pregnant and children under 15 not to eat walleye from lakes Santeetlah and Fontana. Others should eat no more than one meal of the fish a week.

Health advisories exist for several freshwater fish species caught in the rivers of Eastern North Carolina, and for largemouth bass caught anywhere in the state. For more information: www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/fish or call the N.C. Division of Public Health at 919-707-5900.

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