Texas Department of State Health Services has issued an advisory

limiting the consumption of gafftopsail catfish from Texas waters of

Sabine Lake in Jefferson and Orange counties. DSHS advises adults eat no

more than three eight-ounce portions of gafftopsail catfish per month

from the affected waters. Additionally, children under 12, women who are

or may become pregnant and nursing mothers should consume no more than

one four-ounce portion per month.

The advisory also covers contiguous Texas waters, including Sabine Pass and portions of the Sabine and Neches rivers.


testing showed levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, that

exceed DSHS standards in samples of gafftopsail catfish collected from

the lake. DSHS tested tissue samples from eight species of fish as part

of its evaluation. DSHS did not find elevated levels of contaminants in

samples of alligator gar, black and red drum, sand trout, southern

flounder, spotted seatrout or striped bass.

PCBs are

industrial chemicals once used as coolants and lubricants in electrical

equipment and for other industrial purposes. The U.S. Environmental

Protection Agency banned PCBs in 1979, but equipment containing PCBs did

not have to be replaced. PCBs break down very slowly in the environment

and can accumulate in animals such as fish. Long-term consumption of

PCBs may cause cancer as well as reproductive, immune system,

developmental and liver problems in humans.

Elevated levels of PCBs in fish do not pose a health risk for people participating in recreational activities on Sabine Lake.