February 2, 2006
2006 SPORTS FISH CONSUMPTION ADVISORY ANNOUNCED
SPRINGFIELD, Ill – The Illinois Department of Public Health today announced its 2006 consumption advisories for sport fish caught in Illinois waters. The following lakes are new to the advisory this year: Herrin Lake #1, Lake DePue, Lake of Egypt, Marion City Reservoir, Raccoon Lake, and Waukegan North Harbor of Lake Michigan. The following rivers and creeks are also new to the advisory this year: the east branch of the DuPage River, Kankakee River, Little Wabash River, and Cedar, Nippersink and Spring Creeks. These additions are the result of expanded and directed sampling by the Fish Contaminant Monitoring Program and do not suggest that Illinois fish are becoming more contaminated.
“The advisories are not meant to discourage people from eating fish, but should be used as a guideline to help anglers and their families decide 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. “Fish can be an important part of a balanced diet. It is a good source of high quality protein and other nutrients and is low in fat. But the public needs to be aware of the fact that contaminants in fish in some of our bodies of water may make some fish unsafe except in limited quantities, particularly for women of childbearing age and young children.”
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 pesticides and chemicals, such as chlordane, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), and methylmercury, found in fish listed on the advisories. Methylmercury, which results from mercury emitted primarily by coal-burning power plants, 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 sensitive populations, including 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.
This year’s changes to the advisories include:
The remainder of the consumption advisories are unchanged from last year, 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, sauger, 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 the 15 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, Campus Lake at Southern Illinois University, Cedar Lake, Devil's Kitchen Lake, Kinkaid Lake, Lake Bracken, Lake in the Hills, Little Grassy Lake, Little Wabash River and Tributaries, Marquette Park Lagoon, Midlothian Reservoir, Monee Reservoir, Ohio River, Rock River (from Rockford to Milan Steel Dam), and Wabash River.
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.
Because eating fish with high mercury levels can pose serious health risks, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich recently announced a proposal to cut mercury emissions from Illinois power plants. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) issued the Clean Air Mercury Rule on March 10, 2005, that required coal-fired power plants to reduce mercury emissions by 47 percent by 2010, and 79 percent by 2018. Gov. Blagojevich’s proposed Illinois rules are significantly stronger, requiring a 90 percent emissions reduction by June 30, 2009, and prohibiting power plants from purchasing allowances, or trading emissions credits with other companies or states – practices that can lead to toxic “hot-spots” in areas where individual plants are able to get around emissions standards.
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 methylmercury 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, 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 2006 Fishing Information Guide, which is available from IDNR and from businesses that sell state fishing licenses.
of Public Health
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Springfield, Illinois 62761
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