|April 6, 2004||2004 Fish Advisory Web site|
2004 SPORTS FISH CONSUMPTION ADVISORY ANNOUNCED
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The Illinois Department of Public Health today announced its 2004 consumption advisories for sport fish caught in Illinois waters, which, for the first time, includes recommendations for fish caught in Arrowhead Lake, Devil's Kitchen Lake, Kickapoo Creek, Salt Creek and the Big Muddy River.
Other changes this year include improvements in Lake Bracken fish, and new advisories for the DuPage River, Kishwaukee River, Rock River and sections of the Des Plaines, Illinois and Sangamon rivers because of higher levels of contaminants.
"The advisories are intended to help anglers and their families make informed choices about where to fish, the types of fish to eat, and how to prepare fish for cooking to reduce possible contaminants," said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. "By following this advice, fish can be an important part of a healthy diet. Almost all fish have health benefits, including being high in protein, vitamins and minerals and low in cholesterol and saturated fats."
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, such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), chlordane and methylmercury, found in fish listed on the advisories. Methylmercury also has been found to cause reproductive damage and have adverse effects on the central nervous system, including developmental delays.
The advisories are 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 men older than 15.
Changes to this year's advisories include:
The remainder of this year's consumption advisories are unchanged from last year's, including the statewide advisory for methylmercury. The statewide mercury advisory cautions sensitive populations to eat no more than one meal per week of predator fish, which pose a greater risk because they feed on other fish and accumulate higher amounts of methylmercury. Predator fish include all species of black bass, (largemouth, smallmouth and spotted), striped bass, white bass, hybrid striped bass, flathead catfish, muskellunge, northern pike, saugeye and walleye.
Women beyond childbearing age and males older than 15 years of age can eat as many meals of predator fish as they please with the exception of fish caught from 10 bodies of water that are on the special mercury advisory and have more restrictive meal advice because of high levels of methylmercury. These include Arrowhead Lake, Devil's Kitchen Lake, Campus Lake at Southern Illinois University, Cedar Lake, Kinkaid Lake, Lake in the Hills, Midlothian Reservoir, Monee Reservoir, Ohio River, and Rock River (from Rockford to Milan Steel Dam).
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.
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 as 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.
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 Illinois Department of Public Health bases its consumption advisories on the IEPA test results. This year's advisories are included in the Illinois 2004 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. Due to a printing error, copies of the Illinois 2004 Fishing Information Guide omit the fish advisory for Lake Fork Creek in the Kaskaskia River Basin. That advisory states that carp of all sizes should be eaten no more than one meal per week.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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