Are walleye from Lake Roosevelt contaminated with mercury?

Fact Sheet 102-97
By:  and 



To find out, scientists from the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) tested walleye and other sport fish from the upper Columbia River and Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake (Lake Roosevelt), the largest reservoir in Washington and a popular fishing spot.


  • Walleye had higher concentrations of mercury than other sport fish.
  • Larger walleye had higher mercury concentrations than smaller walleye.
  • Mercury concentrations in walleye fillets ranged from 0.11 to 0.44 parts per million (ppm). These concentrations do not exceed the current Federal standard (1.0 ppm of mercury) designed to protect the health of people who eat small amounts of fish.

After reviewing these findings, the Washington State Department of Health concluded that people who regularly consume large amounts of Lake Roosevelt walleye may be at risk of adverse health effects from mercury and should limit their consumption of these fish.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Are walleye from Lake Roosevelt contaminated with mercury?
Series title Fact Sheet
Series number 102-97
DOI 10.3133/fs10297
Year Published 1997
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program, Washington Water Science Center
Description 3 p.
Country United States
State Washington
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