NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Earlier this week, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation issued Precautionary Fish Consumption Advisories for Center Hill and Dale Hollow lakes, as well as that part of the Cumberland River that runs through Nashville. So what does this mean?

The advisories not only recommend that pregnant women, nursing mothers, and small children avoid eating the species of fish in the advisories, but they also recommend that everyone else only consume one meal per month.

“For Center Hill and Dale Hollow, we have found mercury in the fish there at a level that we feel folks need to be aware of, especially if they eat the fish from those reservoirs on a routine basis,” explained Jenny Dodd, TDEC Director of the Division of Water Resources.

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For Center Hill and Dale Hollow lakes, the species in the advisory are largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass—Dale Hollow also includes walleye.

The advisory for the Cumberland River in Nashville—which technically is Cheatham Lake—runs from the Briley Parkway bridge near Opryland, downstream to the other Briley Parkway bridge at Cockrill Bend.

“For Cheatham Reservoir (the Cumberland River) we found PCBs, and we want to make sure that people who are eating either the bass or the catfish there that there are elevated levels of PCBs,” Dodd said.

So where did the PCBs and mercury come from? the PCBs in the Cumberland River are manmade chemicals that were commonly used for years in electrical equipment such as transformers. They were banned back in 1979. TDEC will be working with the city of Nashville to find what industries used PCBs years ago to help them narrow down the area where they will focus their investigation. And the mercury in Center Hill and Dale Hollow lakes? The burning of coal worldwide is the most frequent reason for elevated levels of mercury in fish.

“This is a problem for all of the states, as well as countries because our atmosphere moves around,” Dodd explained.  “And so, it’s a global issue and it will take a global solution.”

For now, TDEC will continue to monitor the fish in our area lakes and will update advisories as needed.

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To read these latest advisories, go to the “News Section” of TDEC’S website.

There are other lakes and rivers in Tennessee (including others in Middle TN). See the list here.