On Your Health

Check back to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog for the latest health and wellness news for all Oklahomans.

Fishing in Oklahoma

Eating fish provides many health benefits. It’s a good source of protein and high in vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. But if you’re only eating fish from Oklahoma lakes, you might need to cut back.

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently updated their guide Mercury in Fish: A Guide to Healthy Fish Consumption in Oklahoma to include eight additional lakes, bringing the total count of Oklahoma lakes with a fish consumption advisory to 40 lakes.

You can see which fish from each lake are included in the DEQ's guide. Guidelines for each fish are separated into two categories:

  • Sensitive population – Women of childbearing age, pregnant or nursing mothers and children under 15
  • General population – Males ages 15 and up and women past childbearing age

The advisories for consumption of fish are then split into these four categories:

  • Two meals per month
  • No meals per month
  • Do not eat
  • No restriction

Guidelines vary by the lake, species and size of fish, but for most of the lakes on the list, you can consume a few meals of the fish included every month.

Generally, you're safer eating smaller fish and fish that don't eat other fish because larger predator fish have more mercury in their tissues.

Knowing how much mercury you consume is important because mercury can harm your nervous system. Young children, developing fetuses and breastfed babies are at the highest risk -- just a small amount of mercury can damage a brain still forming or growing. Mercury can also harm older children and adults, but symptoms only develop with more exposure.

Mercury symptoms include incoordination and burning or tingling sensation in the fingers and toes. Mercury poisoning can also affect your ability to walk, talk, see and hear.

Map of Oklahoma Lakes with Mercury Advisory

There’s no risk in swimming in the lakes with elevated mercury levels or drinking your city’s drinking water, according to the DEQ.