Fishing and Mercury Pollution

Mercury from fluorescent lightbulbs, thermometers, batteries and other products can pollute the water and end up in fish. Eating certain fish can harm human health. Advisories can help you know what fish are safe to eat.

Check Fishing Advisories Before You Eat Your Catch

Do you cook the fish you or others catch? Some fish found in San Francisco Bay, and local creeks and lakes contain chemicals like mercury and PCBs. To learn which fish are safe to eat and which fish to avoid, please download this Guide to Eating Fish and Shellfish from the San Francisco Bay from the California Department of Public Health. If you’re travelling to fish, be sure to check the statewide map of all advisories in California.

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Due to mercury contamination in San Francisco Bay, it is recommended that adults eat no more than two servings of fish from the Bay per month.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a nationwide consumer advisory that children and nursing mothers should not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or ocean whitefish because of mercury contamination.

Mercury harms aquatic life too. Information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service indicates that mercury in sediment may cause increased mortality and deformities of rainbow trout embryos.

A guide to eating fish from San Francisco Bay
Father fishing with daughter

Prevent Mercury Pollution: Never Put Fluorescent Lightbulbs in the Trash or Recycling

Fluorescent lamps and lightbulbs are the most common source of mercury pollution. Never dispose of the bulbs in the trash, recycling, or by dumping them outside or into storm drains. Safe disposal is convenient!

Take them to a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Center. HHW collection centers send fluorescent lamps and lightbulbs to specialized recycling facilities where the mercury in them is recovered for reuse, rather than escaping into the environment and polluting our water, fish and us!

Make an appointment at the local household hazardous waste (HHW) collection center.

Discarded lightbulbs
The Watershed Watch Campaign is an initiative of
the following agencies: