At the Fish Smart Celebration, the Duke Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center team worked to protect the health of subsistence fishers who cast their lines in the Cape Fear River in Wilmington, North Carolina. The May event, held in partnership with Cape Fear River Watch, was part of the Center's "Stop, Check, Enjoy" campaign.
In the Cape Fear River, some fish contain high levels of mercury, a harmful chemical that can affect growth and development. Therefore, pregnant women and young children should be especially careful when consuming certain fish. Low-income and minority populations are often disproportionately exposed to contaminants, like mercury, from eating fish.
Since 2016, the Duke SRP Center has provided a scientific foundation for the "Stop, Check, Enjoy" campaign by characterizing subsistence fishers' exposure to harmful chemicals from eating the fish they catch. Interviews with local fishers and their consumption habits informed the campaign created by the Duke SRP Center and Wilmington health educators.
Outreach campaign materials, distributed at the event, explain health problems associated with mercury exposure and how people can reduce their exposure to mercury from fish. One brochure shows how to fillet a fish, reducing the fish fat where mercury tends to be stored.