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Your Environment. Your Health.

North Carolina Coastal Community Enjoys Fish Smart Celebration

Dean Neff, Keith Rhodes, Madi Polera, and Catherine Kastleman

From left to right: Chef Dean Neff; Chef Keith Rhodes, a Wilmington native and owner of Catch restaurant and food truck, which served those at the event; Madi Polera, an employee of Cape Fear River Watch at the time; and Catherine Kastleman of the Duke SRP Center.
(Photo courtesy of Alan Cradick, Cape Fear River Watch)

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.

Stop, Check, Enjoy brochure
A brochure created by the Duke SRP Center Community Engagement Core, with the help of New Hanover County health educators. The team also created fact sheets, stickers, refrigerator magnets, and posters.
(Photo courtesy of the Duke SRP Center)
 
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