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News Release
OHA updates recommended meal allowances for resident fish in Columbia Slough - 11/29/22

November 29, 2022


Media contact: Erica Heartquist 503-871-8843


OHA updates recommended meal allowances for resident fish in Columbia Slough

Levels of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) found in resident species

PORTLAND, Ore. —Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is changing its recommendation on the amount of whole-body largescale sucker from the Columbia Slough that people should eat.

An OHA advisory for species in the Columbia Slough was last updated in 2019. That advisory was based on levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury measured in fish collected by the City of Portland.

OHA recently developed a method to calculate meal recommendations for fish whose tissue contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances. PFAS are persistent and toxic chemicals found in a wide variety of consumer and industrial products, foods and drinking water. Given how prevalent PFAS are in our environment, these chemicals are found in the blood of people and animals worldwide. When consumed at high enough levels, PFAS chemicals can cause significant health issues.

For more information about PFAS, how you can be exposed and associated health issues, visit the PFAS webpage on the OHA Toxic Substances website.

If people are exposed to high enough levels, PFAS can:

  • Affect growth, learning and behavior of infants and children.
  • Lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant.
  • Interfere with the body’s hormones.
  • Increase cholesterol levels.
  • Affect the immune system.
  • Increase the risk of certain types of cancer.

The United States Geological Survey recently collected fish from the Columbia Slough and researchers at Oregon State University analyzed the fish tissue for a variety of PFAS. The analysis found levels of one type of PFAS, perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), above levels of concern for health. As a result, OHA is adjusting meal recommendations for whole-body largescale sucker from the Columbia Slough from one meal per month to zero meals per month. All other meal recommendations currently in place in the Columbia Slough for other resident fish and for largescale sucker fillet remain unchanged.

The change in meal recommendations should be followed by everyone. If followed, OHA’s updated meal recommendations are designed to protect against these health effects. PFOS levels are much higher in internal organs, such as the fish liver, than in the fillet.

Updated Meal recommendations for largescale sucker in the Columbia Slough

Fish species (meal type)

Existing meal* recommendations, meals per month (PCBs)

Updated meal recommendations, meals per month (PCBs and PFOS)

Largescale sucker (fillet only)



Largescale sucker (whole body)



Other resident fish (fillet only)



Other resident fish (whole body)



*A meal is about the size and thickness of your hand, or one ounce of uncooked fish for every 20 pounds of body weight.

The Columbia Slough extends northwest from Fairview Lake to the Willamette River near Sauvie Island.

View more news releases from Oregon Health Authority.