|March 28, 2003||2003 Fish Advisory|
2003 SPORTS FISH CONSUMPTION ADVISORY ANNOUNCED
SPRINGFIELD, IL The Illinois Department of Public Health today announced its 2003 consumption advisories for sport fish caught in Illinois waters. The annual list includes the following revisions and recommendations:
The remainder of this year's consumption advisories are unchanged from last year's, including the statewide advisory for mercury. That advisory was added last year after research found that methylmercury is more toxic than previously thought. If eaten regularly, fish containing high levels of methylmercury could harm the central nervous system of a fetus, which may result in lower intelligence, abnormal muscle tone and slowed motor function.
While nearly all fish contain trace amounts of methylmercury, larger fish that feed on other fish accumulate higher amounts of methylmercury and pose the greatest risk. These predator fish include all species of black bass, (largemouth, smallmouth and spotted), striped bass, white bass, hybrid striped bass, walleye, saugeye, flathead catfish, muskellunge and northern pike.
Mercury occurs naturally in the environment and it can be released into the air through industrial pollution. When it falls into surface water, bacteria in the water cause chemical changes that transform the mercury into methylmercury, which is then taken up by fish as they feed on aquatic organisms.
The statewide mercury advisory cautions pregnant or nursing women, women of childbearing age and children younger than 15 years of age to eat no more than one meal per week of predator fish. Women beyond childbearing age and males older than 15 years of age may continue to enjoy as many meals of predator fish as they please, with the exception of fish from seven bodies of water (including the three added this year) where high levels of methylmercury were found. More restrictive meal advice applies to fish taken from these waters.
For fish that may contain PCBs and chlordane, the advisory provides eating advice in five categories unlimited consumption, no more than one meal per week, no more than one meal per month, no more than six meals per year and do not eat.
Anglers who vary the type and source of sport fish consumed opting for the younger, smaller fish, and consuming leaner species such walleye and panfish over fatty species such as carp and catfish and who prepare and cook fish in ways that reduce the amount of contaminants can limit their exposure to harmful substances that may be found in fish.
There are several ways to reduce any PCBs and chlordane present in edible portions of fish:
These precautions will not reduce the amount of mercury in fish. Mercury is found throughout a fish's muscle tissue (the edible part of the fish) rather than in the fat and skin. Therefore, the only way to reduce mercury intake is to reduce the amount of contaminated fish eaten.
While there is no known immediate health threat from eating contaminated fish from any body of water in Illinois, there are concerns about the effects of long-term, low-level exposure to the pesticides and chemicals found in fish listed in the advisories. Methylmercury, the other contaminant of concern in Illinois fish, can cause reproductive damage and have adverse effects on the central nervous system, including developmental delays.
The advisories for PCBs and chlordane are also based primarily on protecting women of childbearing age, pregnant women, fetuses, nursing mothers and children younger than 15 years of age. They may be overprotective for women beyond childbearing age and adult men.
The Illinois Fish Contaminant Monitoring Program screens fish samples from about 40 bodies of water per year for contamination from 13 banned pesticides and industrial chemicals. The program is a joint effort of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and the departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Nuclear Safety and Public Health.
The fish are collected by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and tested by IEPA. The Department of Public Health bases its consumption advisories on the IEPA test results. This year's advisories are included in the Illinois 2003 Fishing Information Guide, which is available from IDNR, from businesses that sell state fishing licenses, and on IDPH's Web site, www.idph.state.il.us.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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