The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has confirmed the presence of mercury above consumption advisory levels in bass or walleye collected from Lake Iowa, the Turkey River, near Garber, and the Iowa River, near Marshalltown.

The DNR and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommend that individuals should consume no more than one meal (6 to 7 ounces) per week of bass, walleye, or other predator fish caught from the following waters:

  • Lake Iowa in Iowa County near Millersburg;
  • The Turkey River in Clayton County from its confluence with the Mississippi River 21 miles upstream to confluence with the Volga River near Garber;
  • The Iowa River from the upper end of Coralville Reservoir at Hwy. 218 in Johnson County 178 miles upriver to the dam at Iowa Falls in Hardin County.

Also, individuals should consume no more than one meal (6 to 7 ounces) per week of muscle tissue from snapping turtles taken from Pollmiller Park Lake in Lee County.  The DNR and IDPH recommend that turtle fat not be consumed because contaminants can reach higher levels in this type of tissue.

This brings the number of consumption advisories in Iowa to 22. The complete list of Iowa’s fish consumption advisories is available online at

Mercury is a naturally-occurring substance that can be discharged to the environment through industrial processes and through combustion of coal used for generation of electricity.

Fish accumulate mercury in their muscle tissue through feeding.  Prolonged and regular consumption of fish with high levels of mercury can lead to neurological disorders such lack of coordination of movements and muscle weakness; impairments of speech, hearing, and walking.

As a result, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration recommend that pregnant and nursing women, those planning to become pregnant and children 12 years or younger limit their consumption to one meal per week of all larger size predator fish, such as walleye and bass.  Predator fish are more likely to have higher concentrations of mercury.  Consumption of panfish, such as bluegill, by these higher risk individuals is considered safe unless otherwise posted.

Fish are part of a healthy diet.  For information on the benefits of eating fish or what types of fish are safe to eat, visit the IDPH’s webpage at

Logo courtesy Iowa Department of Natural Resources

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