DEP Says Few Fish Eaters Means Little Mercury Risk

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Charleston, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia allows more mercury in fish than the federal government recommends, but environmental regulators say that's OK.

West Virginians eat less fish than the national average, so the Department of Environmental Protection figures they're at less risk.

Mike Arcuri of the water quality standards program says the more fish people eat, the stricter mercury limits must be.

But if people eat less, concentrations of mercury in fish tissue can be higher.

At high levels, mercury can damage the brain and other vital organs.

The Federal Clean Water Act recommends mercury not exceed 0.3 micrograms per gram of fish tissue.

West Virginia allows 0.5 micrograms.

Some residents say they might eat more fish if they were confident it was safe.

(Copyright 2009 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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