Inlander: Deadly Catch

The Inlander has a great piece on the ongoing fish consumption rate debate in Washington State:

The basic science is simple. Depending on the dose, anything — arsenic, botulism, chocolate sauce — can be dangerous or harmless. Toxins in fish aren’t as problematic if they’re eaten very rarely. Washington state’s water-quality standards, therefore, rely on assumptions about how much fish people eat.

But in its current water-quality standards, Washington assumes each person only eats 6.5 grams of fish per day. That’s about half the amount that would fit on a soda cracker — one-thirtieth of a single plate of seafood at Anthony’s restaurant. The figure’s a national average, left over from a Department of Agriculture survey in the 1970s that included those who never ate fish.

Local tribes say the number is wildly inaccurate. In the 1990s, surveys of four Indian tribes on the Columbia River showed the average tribal member ate nearly 10 times more fish than that.

The run-of-the-mill tribal member, Pierre says, may not care about all the numbers, but they care about what they can eat. “Do we want to eat that much fish?” Pierre says, a tiny dime-sized space between his thumb and finger. “No, we’re going to eat a lot more than that. We want to eat this much fish. That’s the best way I can explain it to tribal members.”

Read the entire thing here.

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