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State advises against eating Cheatham Reservoir catfish

Officials from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) are warning fishers in Cheatham County to avoid or limit consumption of the catfish in the Cheatham Reservoir.


According to TDEC, a routine check discovered high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the catfish species. These chemical compounds are commonly used in industrial applications and can pose a threat to everyone, especially certain groups.


Officials are warning pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children to avoid eating the catfish and that all others limit consumption to one meal per month.


PCBs are ingested by the fish and passed on to people who eat them. Catfish are particularly affected because they tend to feed on the bottom where the hazardous chemicals settle, accumulating in their fatty tissue.


State officials stated that other recreational activities like boating, kayaking, swimming, wading and catch-and-release fishing carry no risk.


“We provide these advisories so the community can make informed decisions about whether or not to consume the fish they catch,” said TDEC Deputy Commissioner Greg Young. “Unlike ‘do not consume’ advisories that warn the general population to avoid eating fish from a particular body of water altogether, precautionary fish consumption advisories are specifically directed to sensitive populations such as children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and those who may eat fish frequently from the same body of water.”


TDEC will post warning signs at primary public access points and will work with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and United States Army Corps of Engineers to communicate this information to the public.


The Cheatham Reservoir is a 7,450-acre riverine impoundment that meanders through Nashville and runs downstream to Ashland City. It does not encompass any of the waterways in South Cheatham County, like the Harpeth River.


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