The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) issued a warning
in January 2010 that you do not eat bottom-feeding fish such as channel
catfish caught in the Kansas River from Lawrence (below Bowersock Dam)
downstream to Eudora at the confluence of the Wakarusa River.
Bottom-feeding fish in this reach of the river have been found to have
unacceptably high PCB levels. This advisory will remain in effect until
Also, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a national fish consumption advisory for mercury
based on nationwide average mercury levels in fish sampled by their
program. EPA recommends eating no more than one 8-ounce serving per
week of non-commercial (locally caught) fish. Women who are pregnant or
breast-feeding should avoid eating large-sized predatory fish such as
largemouth bass, or consult their physician.
You may have seen signs along the Kansas River warning you about not
eating the fish you catch in the river. Unfortunately many of these
signs are a decade or more old and the information may not be as
current as it should be. You can get the most recent information from
our Fish Advisory page
and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment
Each year the Kansas Department of Health and Environment collects fish
from locations all around Kansas to analyze tissues for levels of
chemicals that are potentially dangerous to human health. If any
samples exceed the EPA standards for harmful chemicals they issue a
warning for the types of fish (bottom feeders, predatory fish, and so
on) and bodies of water (certain stretches of the river, certain lakes)
that are potentially contaminated.
In January 2010 KDHE issued its annual health advisory.
The good news is that things have gotten better on the Kansas River
since 2006, Chlordane is no longer an active contaminate and there is no longer a fish consumption advisory for
Wyandotte County. An advisory for PCB contamination in bottom feeding
fish (carp, blue catfish, channel catfish, flathead catfish, freshwater
drum, bullheads, sturgeons, buffalos, carpsuckers and other sucker
species) is still in place for the Kaw from Lawrence (below Bowersock
Dam) downstream to Eudora at the confluence of the Wakarusa River.
Bottom-feeding fish pick up contaminants from the sediment as well as
through feeding on bottom dwelling organisms such as insects that live
in the sediment. Chemicals like PCB’s tend to accumulate in this part
of the river.
In addition, there is a national advisory issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for mercury
contamination in large-sized predatory fish such as largemouth bass.
The EPA recommends that you follow the guidance of local fish
consumption advisories issued by agencies such as KDHE. In Kansas
there is an advisory issued for the main stem of the Blue River from
U.S. 69 Highway to the Kansas/Missouri state line (Johnson County).