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Jun 22, 2012

Mercury levels still high in Macal River fish

While the children have parents to look after their health, the same can’t be said for the fish in the Macal. The Ministry of Health, the Department of the Environment and Belize Electric Company (BECOL) have completed another round of mercury testing on fish from the Macal River. Fifteen different types of fish were tested and five of them had elevated mercury levels, similar to the results in the lasts tests in December, 2011. Of the five fish with elevated mercury levels, three types are frequently eaten by residents in the area; Bay Snook, Baca and the Botasi or Lup. Since December, mercury levels in the bay have decreased significantly but are still above the tolerable level. The Ministry of Health recommends that no more than one point four-four ounces of Bay Snook and three ounces of Baca should be consumed each week by persons weighing up to one hundred and seventy-five pounds. Since the levels of mercury in the Botasi are more than two and a quarter times more than the tolerance level, the Ministry advises that it should not be eaten until further notice. If the recommendations are not followed, it could result in long term effects such as mental retardation in children, poor development of infants, vision impairment, nervousness and weakening of muscles in the hands and feet. The warning applies only to fish caught in the Macal River. A full listing of the prescribed amount of the fish that can be consumed based on a person’s weight can be viewed at channel5belize.com.

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9 Responses for “Mercury levels still high in Macal River fish”

  1. Mel says:

    Fish with any amount of mercury should not be consumed period. There is no such thing as tolerable because even in small quantities mercury levels will build up if continuously consumed. Children, breastfeeding moms and pregnant moms or those with possible pregnancy should stay away from the fish. Has fish around the country been tested for mercury as well? Is the mercury levels a side effect of the development that occurred in the west? or is this coming from across the border?
    Avoid consumption of the fish as mercury can and have harmful effects, I am not sure where the information “tolerable amount” is obtained from. Mercury to children, breastfeeding moms, pregnant moms and possible pregnant moms can result in harmful effects.

  2. Storm says:

    What is the source of the mercury pollution in this important river? Can it be eliminated?

  3. Ray says:

    The mercury comes from rotting vegetation. There are trace levels in all the rivers in Belize. Levels in the Macal are elevated as a result of all the vegetation that was cleared to create the reservoir. The mercury level in the Macal should grradually return to pre-development levels. But the levels of mercury in the Macal was higher than acceptable before the development. The development has served to raise awareness and levels of mercury in the Mopan and other large rivers should probably be monitored also.

  4. Ray says:

    The mercury comes from rotting vegetation. There are trace levels in all the rivers in Belize. Levels in the Macal are elevated as a result of all the vegetation that was cleared to create the reservoir. The mercury level in the Macal should grradually return to pre-development levels. But the levels of mercury in the Macal was higher than acceptable before the development. The development has served to raise awareness and levels of mercury in the Mopan and other large rivers should probably be monitored also and the results published.

  5. Me says:

    Mercury comes from the extraction of gold.

  6. Planet says:

    What can be done about this? people are hurting in Cristo rey villiage since they dont have running water! Can the government do something about this???

  7. Lucas says:

    You a’int seen nothing yet. When all the weed-killer and fertilizer residue start pouring into the Old River via that channel just recently opened, then you will see.

  8. Ray says:

    The water at Cristo Rey is not unsafe to drink because of mercury. Its insafe because of flood conditions. Mercury comes from the vegetation which the fish eat. It’s only the fish that has high levels of mercury. The water tests shows that the water itself has no mercury. Belize city gets its water from the same river. People are advised not to drink untreated river water from any river especially during rainy season when flood conditions exist because of the risk of water borne diseases and sediment run off from the heavy rains.

  9. concerned: says:

    Seems like Ray have seen the water testing results from the macal river. Must be priviledge with DOE. We are only aware of testing of Mercury in fishes. DOE has never revealed any water testing result to the public..

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