Superfund Research Program

January 2022

Chef Keith Rhodes
Duke SRP Center community partner Keith Rhodes explains how to safely prepare fish caught in the Cape Fear River in a video. (Image courtesy of the Duke SRP Center)

New fish consumption advisories in North Carolina were developed using data collected through the NIEHS Superfund SRP Center at Duke University. The goal is to better protect the health of people who collect and eat fish from the Cape Fear River.

Based on elevated levels of arsenic, chromium, and mercury found in all fish species sampled, state regulators made the decision to update consumption advisories for red drum, bowfin, bluegill, and catfish from the river.

As part of the Stop, Check, Enjoy campaign, the Duke SRP Center Community Engagement Core and Analytical Chemistry Core worked closely with the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, Wildlife Resources Commission, and others to collect fish from the Cape Fear River. The team analyzed fish samples for pollutants to understand potential health risks from eating fish caught in the area.

The Stop, Check, Enjoy public information campaign includes a video series and a customizable social media tool kit about safely catching and preparing fish.

A culmination of five years of participatory research with community partners, health educators, and focus groups with local fishers, the campaign shed light on how much fish people eat from the Cape Fear River, potential health risks, and the best strategies for communicating those risks.

“We collaborated with partners to distill our research findings into simple, clear messaging about potential health threats from eating contaminated fish and how to make healthier choices,” said Sam Cohen of the Duke SRP Center. “Based on this new data, we are working with our community partners to update our communication materials to continue encouraging safe fish consumption along the Cape Fear River.”