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Environmentalists say the state has gone from bad to worse in how it warns people about toxins in fish. An annual statewide advisory on which fish to avoid eating, once available in a cumbersome, printed document, is now available only on the Internet.
The bottom line, community advocates say, is that the people who most need the information -- poor and minority residents who often eat what they catch -- are now those least likely to see it.
The annual advisory identifies which Indiana waterways and fish species have high levels of mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs -- both accumulate in the body -- and how many meals a person, especially women and children, can safely eat. For example, people should avoid eating large carp and catfish, because they generally have higher levels of toxins.
LaNetta Alexander, the Indiana State Department of Health's director of environmental epidemiology, said the agency in the past printed about 10,000 of the 50-plus-page advisories annually. It stopped doing so last year after determining it wasn't practical or cost-effective to continue.