Fish Consumption FAQ

Fish Consumption Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why are children & pregnant women more at risk from mercury exposure in fish?

Mercury can affect the development of fetuses and children. Small doses matter; children breathe, eat, and drink more relative to their size than adults. Their bodies and brains are still developing. They also have more skin surface area than adults.

2. Where can I find current fish consumption advisories for my area?

Visit to find current advisories for the state of North Carolina, by waterbody.

3. What contaminants are common found in fish caught in North Carolina?

Mercury, PFAS, hexavalent chromium, and arsenic can be found in some of the fish caught from the Cape Fear River basin. Other areas of the state may have fish advisories for different contaminants. You can learn more about specific contaminants found in fish here.

4. What is the safest way to prepare and cook wild-caught fish?

Some contaminants like PCBs accumulate primarily in fatty tissue of a fish. For this reason, it is often a good idea to skin and fillet your catch instead of cooking it whole. Grilling, broiling, or baking can also help render out fat, and can help reduce exposure to contaminants compared to frying fish. Learn more about best practices for preparing and cooking fish here.

5. Why does the CEC focus on subsistence fish consumers? And what is a subsistence fish consumer?

A subsistence fish consumer is someone who depends on wild-caught fish as a supplemental source of food in the diet. They regularly consume fish caught from a local water body. The CEC focuses our efforts on subsistence consumers because they are at higher risk for exposure to contaminants found in wild-caught fish.