Interactive Map Shows Pollution Locations In Louisiana

The state of Louisiana’s Department of Environmental Quality starting in December first published an interactive map that shows where it is unsafe to swim and where fishers should not eat their catches, according to an Associated Press story in nola.com.  The map provides information on all the state’s lakes, bayous, and waterways and even covers almost 1,200 miles of the waters of the Gulf of Mexico that are under state jurisdiction.  The map is a very much needed tool because it turns out there are some serious contamination issues in Louisiana’s fresh and salt waters.

  • There are 58 sites where contaminated fish have been caught or the bottom’s too polluted for safe swimming.
  • For the Tensas River, which is 83 miles long, the advisory warns that “Long-term fish consumption may cause a health risk” due to contamination with banned pesticides DDT and toxaphene.
  • No fish from the Capitol Lake in Baton Rouge should be consumed because it’s contaminated with PCBs.
  • In the Gulf of Mexico, people are warned not to eat more than a total of four eight-ounce servings a month of fish caught in the ocean as a result of mercury poisoning.
  • And also women of childbearing age and children younger than 7 should not eat any king mackerel and no more than one meal (8 oz) a month of cobia, blackfin tuna, and greater amberjack from the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Most places restrict eating fish or shellfish and two of those also warn against swimming. Two others warn only against swimming.

The map and its advisories are a result of a collaboration between the two relevant state, the departments of Environmental Quality, Health and Wildlife and Fisheries, who now are working together.  Mercury is by far the most pervasive pollutant — and it comes from the atmosphere.

Why This Matters:  Warnings against swimming and eating contaminated fish in Louisiana in real time are a huge step forward toward keeping the public safe.  The Government developed a system like this for closing areas to fishing during the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  But that went away once the oil spill was over and BP stopped paying for it.  Now the public in Louisiana has this information at its fingertips.  It would be even better if there were fewer contaminated sites.  And this is why the FDA’s seafood inspections matter so much.  Many states simply don’t have this kind of system and their residents do not know whether there is contamination.  Who knows how fish that is contaminated people are eating? This is the kind of system related to climate change and coastal resilience that the Green New Deal could fund.

To Go Deeper:  Click on the interactive Map here.

Up Next

How Safe Is Your Salad?  FDA Not Ready For Outbreaks According to New Investigative Report

How Safe Is Your Salad? FDA Not Ready For Outbreaks According to New Investigative Report

The Boston Globe and NBC News did an in-depth investigation of the E. coli outbreaks of 2018 and found that there are serious issues with the FDA’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to outbreaks of this potentially deadly illness because the antiquated system the agency has to trace the source of contamination takes so long that by the time it finds a definitive link to a particular farm the tainted product is often off the market. 

Why This Matters:  As we begin to panic about coronavirus, we may be missing the bigger risk to our health right there in our salad bowl.  Food safety systems are something only the government can reliably provide — when it comes to food safety and our health, self-regulation does not work.

Continue Reading 588 words
One Hollywood Thing: Award Shows Give A Bow To Sustainability With Plant-Based Dinners

One Hollywood Thing: Award Shows Give A Bow To Sustainability With Plant-Based Dinners

Both the Golden Globe awards two weeks ago and the Screen Actors Guild Awards — which serve dinner to Hollywood A-list attendees — served plant-based dinners in a nod to climate change and sustainability.  The attendees at the Globes caught flak on Twitter for the disconnect between the carbon footprint of riding in hundreds of […]

Continue Reading 151 words
Trump Targets Healthy School Lunches

Trump Targets Healthy School Lunches

As Lola Fadulu wrote for the New York Times, last Friday the Trump administration moved to roll back school nutrition standards championed by Michelle Obama.

Why This Matters: Government data refutes the rationale behind this move, so seemingly this is a handout to BigAg.

Continue Reading 567 words