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CDA Basin — Fish Consumption Advisory

This story was written by Dana Swift on behalf of the Our Gem Collaborative team for the CDA Press on Sunday, January 22, 2023. Read the original article.

In January 2020, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and Coeur d’Alene Tribe, in coordination with the participating organizations in the Idaho Fish Consumption Advisory Program (IFCAP), updated the Coeur d’Alene Basin Fish Consumption Advisory, Public Advisory Charts_CdA_Fish (, after testing showed high levels of mercury in some species of fish.

Efforts to update the advisory started in 2016 and included fish sampling and tissue analysis. The Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Idaho Department of Fish and Game and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality collected fish samples, which included bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass), panfish (black crappie, yellow perch and bluegill), bullhead, northern pike, kokanee and trout. Fish tissues were tested for mercury, arsenic, cadmium and lead.

This sampling effort updated the previous fish consumption advisory from 2003 for Lake Coeur d’Alene and expanded the advisory into additional areas of the Coeur d’Alene River and chain lakes.

Findings from this sampling effort are included in the Coeur d’Alene Basin Fish Tissue Analysis and Consumption Advisory Report. The report concluded that mercury is the main contaminant of concern driving fish consumption meal limit recommendations. Bass had the highest concentrations of mercury across all water bodies. These results are generally consistent with the statewide bass advisory and other consumption advisories issued in Idaho. Consuming high levels of mercury can harm the brain and nervous system, especially in children. Children and pregnant women are most at risk of adverse health effects of mercury exposure.

Concentrations of cadmium, arsenic and lead in fish are not expected to cause adverse health effects for the general population when following meal recommendations. Lead exposure from consuming fish is also not expected to cause adverse health risks to children. However, for children living in communities near the Bunker Hill Superfund Site, potential exposure to lead in soil and dust could contribute significantly more to elevated blood lead levels compared to consuming fish, even under high fish consumption scenarios. Preventing exposure to contaminated soils would reduce adverse health risks more than avoiding fish consumption.

As with all fish advisories, the updated guidelines outline the amount and types of fish that are safe to eat. The advisory doesn’t suggest refraining from eating fish as fish are an excellent source of good nutrition. Follow recommendations in Idaho fish advisories for safe consumption of fish.

To learn more about Idaho fish advisories and safe consumption of fish, please contact IFCAP at 800-445-8647 or visit

Dana Swift is the Remediation Bureau Chief for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.
The Our Gem Coeur d’Alene Lake Collaborative is a team of committed and passionate professionals working to preserve lake health and protect water quality by promoting community awareness of local water resources through education, outreach and stewardship. Our Gem includes local experts from the University of Idaho Community Water Resource Center, Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Kootenai Environmental Alliance, Coeur d’Alene Regional Chamber of Commerce and CDA 2030.

University of Idaho

Physical Address:
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Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814

Phone: 208-667-2588

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