Archive for Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bottom-feeding fish still not safe for consumption

January 10, 2007


The environmental damage caused by years of unchecked toxic waste matriculating into the Kansas River is still evident - especially in Lawrence.

Just as it has for the past 20 years, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment recently issued its annual advisory against eating bottom-feeding fish found in the river between Lawrence's Bowersock Dam and Eudora.

The main concern is high levels of PCBs found in fish taken out of the river for samples. PCBs - polychlorinated biphenyl - are subject to regulation under the Toxic Substances Control Act and have not been in use since the 1970s.

"It's a decades-long process for it to degrade to the point that it is no longer a concern to human consumption," Steve Cringan, KDHE environmental scientist, said of the carcinogen. "We are probably a couple of decades into that process, but it may take another couple of decades before we have trouble measuring it."

There are no advisories against eating fish in other parts of the river. The river in Wyandotte County was removed from the advisory list in 2004.

It is difficult to determine why the PCBs are still high in the Lawrence-Eudora river stretch, Cringan said. One factor is that the dam serves as a blockage that makes it difficult for fish to migrate into the area from the west, he said.

Years of testing have found that fish in a 10- to 15-mile area showed similar chemical levels, while beyond that distance they differed, Cringan said.

The Kansas River flows into the Missouri River at the state border. Because of that, the fish population is more variable, Cringan said.

Bottom-feeding fish that are affected by PCBs are considered to be channel, blue and flathead catfish, carp, drum, bullhead, sturgeon, buffalo, carpsuckers and other sucker species.

Fish consumption advisories like this one warn against eating of any kind of bottom-feeding fish found in the Kansas River between Lawrence and Eudora. Those kinds of fish contain high levels of PCB, or polychlorinated biphenyl, a toxic substance.

Fish consumption advisories like this one warn against eating of any kind of bottom-feeding fish found in the Kansas River between Lawrence and Eudora. Those kinds of fish contain high levels of PCB, or polychlorinated biphenyl, a toxic substance.

Crappie, walleye and bass sometimes are found in the river, usually because of spillage from lakes, Cringan said. They are safe to eat.

Trend data from most Kansas long-term monitoring sites show a decrease in mercury and PCBs. Chlordane levels also have dropped dramatically. Chlordane stopped being used in 1988. Chlordane also had once been found in high levels in fish in the Lawrence area.

Despite the decline in some levels of chemicals in the river, pollution is still a major concern, according to Laura Calwell, who serves as the Kansas Riverkeeper, an advocate for the river through the Friends of the Kaw organization. Intentional dumping is a problem up and down the river, she said.

Last March, Friends of the Kaw organized a cleanup of 1,400 tires dumped in the river near Linwood. Battery casings have been found in the river near Manhattan, Calwell said.

"The biggest problem for the river is litter, oil and gas residue, and pet waste from city storm sewers," Calwell said. "Then there is agricultural runoff: pesticides, fertilizer and animal waste."

Calwell emphasized the need to properly cook fish even if it is caught in "safe" areas of the river or any body of water.

She also urged anyone on or along the river to properly wash their hands before eating. She advised carrying a bottle of rubbing alcohol or liquid hand sanitizer.

"You don't want to get that bacteria into your digestive system," she said.

Friends of the Kaw has a Web site,, with information about the river and its environment.


carolannfugate 11 years, 4 months ago

In gerneral it is fish without scales, but this list is fairly concise.

geekin_topekan 11 years, 4 months ago

And,for those of you who take it to heart,or simply when it's convenient,the bible says we aren't supposed to eat these abominations anyways.

acg 11 years, 4 months ago

Mmmm catfish is best when rolled in corn meal and deep fat fried until crisp. That makes me so hungry, and homesick all at the same time. Happy hump-day all!

RonBurgandy 11 years, 4 months ago

acg - you're right about when catfish is the best. Although, fried catfish is the only kind of "fish" i will eat. Note that I don't lump seafood in with fish.

prioress 11 years, 4 months ago

Our mother is hurting and we continue to poison her for our short-term benefit. BTW: Cheeseburgers are illegal too; read the old testament.

compmd 11 years, 4 months ago

I have never seen the word "matriculating" used in the context above. That doesn't seem like an appropriate use of the word.

TOB: Dolphins aren't fish.

Steve Mechels 11 years, 4 months ago

Dolphin aren't fish, they are mammals; eat away ;)

introversion 11 years, 4 months ago

Metriculating is used properly, provided the Kansas river is considered a society or institution of some kind... I don't even think the hippies think of it that way.

TheEleventhStephanie 11 years, 4 months ago

compmd--re: "matriculating," me too. That was the first thing I noticed. I thought it meant "to graduate."

A fancy form of trickling, perhaps?

TheEleventhStephanie 11 years, 4 months ago

Oh, I get it. The fish had enrolled in the river for some schooling, therefore they matriculated.

Almost as scary as the Kaw's nastiness, are the frequent mistakes in the J-Dub.

salad 11 years, 4 months ago

I misread the headline at first and thought it refered to lawyers and school district administrators as an unuseable foodsource....

BunE 11 years, 4 months ago

Oh Esq2eb, you need to read the article one more time, you missed the part where they theorized the problems stemmed from the dam. Dams stop sediment from moving down stream, allowing build up of the compounds in question. While you are right that the problem is in the Lawrence region, it is a result of things coming downstream and stopping at the Bowersock.

Dams are for suckers!!!

Valiant try though, it really was.

BTW, the Mercury and other coal nastiness is mostly North east of the plants, like in Iowa. Shame on Kansas!

Ceallach 11 years, 4 months ago

Okay, so now I'm hungry! Let's all meet for lunch at the Jumpin Catfish in Olathe!! Yummmmm! Cole slaw, white beans, potato wedges, hush puppies and platters of catfish!!

50YearResident 11 years, 4 months ago

Don't forget Lawrence residents are drinking the water that made these fish unfit to eat. Maybe we all need to check the mercury levels in our own body, and then post a sign on our backs that says "Unfit for Human Comsumption".

Bone777 11 years, 4 months ago

When I go down and stand on the banks of the Kaw, peering onto the surface of the water (because you can't see 1/2" into the water), I have no desire to eat anything that resides there.

ranger73 11 years, 4 months ago

dolphin-like Flipper-are porpoises and are mammals.

Dolphin-a fairly ugly looking blunt headed creature-is a fish-also more commonly known as Mahi-Mahi for you Sushi lovers out there.

By the way, Sushi refers to the seasoned rice. Sashimi actually refers to the raw fish itsself.

everydayangel 11 years, 4 months ago

You can eat anything. Christ came to lift the old testament law.

Acts 10:9-16

9About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. 13Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat."

14"Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."

15The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."

16This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.


Matthew 15: 10-20

10Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. 11What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.' "

12Then the disciples came to him and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?"

13He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14Leave them; they are blind guides.[e] If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

15Peter said, "Explain the parable to us."

16"Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them. 17"Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.' "

sweetiepie 11 years, 4 months ago

compmd & TheEleventhStephanie--you're right about "matriculating." It seems like the stuff the LJW posts online doesn't get the editorial attention that the hard copy gets.

bevy 11 years, 4 months ago

I heard there are catfish the size of Volkswagens below the Bowersock dam. They just lie there on the bottom and eat whatever floats by. So don't float by if ya know what's good for ya.

Funny that this was in today's paper. I just enjoyed a Catfish Basket at Jefferson's for lunch. YUMMY!

Love them hush puppies, too!

BOE 11 years, 4 months ago

I'll give it a whirl.

" PCB's and other toxins are matriculating into a school of fish, in the Kansas River . "


drewdun 11 years, 4 months ago

"Douglas County and Lawrence are killing Kansas~ enviromentally, politically, etc"

I can tell you're really smart.

Shelby 11 years, 4 months ago


estespark 11 years, 4 months ago

I was at Abe and Jakes for a wedding reception and saw a guy catch an enormous flathead just below Bowersock. Enormous.

bearded_gnome 11 years, 4 months ago

PCB's are from old-source pollution, and certainly not from currently operating powerplants.

Christians don't live under the Kosher dietary laws, so eat that fish, cheeseburger, pork burger, sausage, hot dog, etc. its all good. Bible quotes above by "angel" much appreciated.

a dear friend and her brother from Pakistan just came to college in the U.S. but they were afraid to eat hot dogs, thinking they contained dogmeat.

Shelby 11 years, 4 months ago

i was just sarcastically making fun of militant vegetarians.

bearded_gnome 11 years, 4 months ago

if meat is murder, yogart is theft, and yeast bread is "breaking and entering?"

bevy 11 years, 4 months ago

Who cares if they posted or not? It's always good to make fun of them.

I love animals - they taste great!

Porter 11 years, 4 months ago

If God didn't want us to eat animals, he wouldn't have made them out of meat.

KSChick1 11 years, 4 months ago

I second that Porter! Da**, beat me by 13 minutes!

bearded_gnome 11 years, 4 months ago

do steers really frolick? once was at a rodeo watching calf roping. I was fortunate/misfortunate to be in the front row of seats. one calf hit the fence just to my right: "half a ton of angry potroast!"

gr 11 years, 4 months ago

"Dolphin aren't fish, they are mammals; eat away ;)"

Excepting they don't have a cloven hoof and chew their cud.

Angel and Gnome, when I read the verses with the surrounding text I wasn't sure they were referring to food.

"Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them. Which implies they thought He was talking about food.

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