By Kelly Ryan
COLFAX (CBS13) — Residents heading to reservoirs in the foothills are seeing new signs warning about the mercury levels in fish.
The signs that are now up are colorful, and there are pictures so there’s no language barrier and you can understand the warning.
Mitch Martinez is launching his fishing boat ready for a great day on Rollins Lake. On this trip he saw something he hasn’t seen before.
“I noticed the mercury level signs the healthy fish signs” he said.
Those signs describe levels of mercury in a variety of fish. Bass and brown trout have the highest levels, rainbow trout the lowest. Signs were recently posted at 28 lakes and reservoirs in Yuba and Nevada counties.
“Sierra Fund is concerned about exposure to legacy mining toxins left behind from the Gold Rush of the 19th century,” said Elizabeth Martin.
The Sierra Fund is one of three nonprofit organizations that pushed the state to put up the signs making people more aware of the danger of mercury contamination in fish. Waterways in the San Francisco Bay and Delta have similar signs but none are posted in the foothills.
“They come up to our beautiful rivers and lakes and they think the fish here are safe,” she said.
Consuming mercury is especially dangerous to pregnant women and children under 18.
“While you’re still forming your neural net you can have permanent neurological damage from consumption of fish that’s got too much mercury in it,” she said.
Laura Price and her two girls enjoy spending a day on the lake and she says had no idea about the Mercury levels in fish here. She thinks the new information on posters is crucial especially to moms like her.
“Absolutely, it’s great to know I definitely want my kids to know I want to know that my kids are eating fish with mercury in it for sure,” she said.
The push to get these signs started back in 2006. The organizations involved are confident the signs will make a difference.