January 27, 2009
2009 SPORTS FISH CONSUMPTION ADVISORY
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced the 2009 consumption advisories for sport fish caught in Illinois waters. The following lakes are new to the advisory this year: Heidecke Lake in Grundy County, Lake Renwick East in Will County, and Sam Parr Lake in Jasper County. 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 Illinois Fish Contaminant Monitoring Program screens fish samples from about 40 bodies of water each 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 (IDPH) issues an annual consumption advisory based on the IEPA test results. This year’s advisory is included in the 2009 Fishing Information Guide, which is available from IDNR and from businesses that sell state fishing licenses. The advisory can also be found on the IDPH Web site here.
“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 the types of fish to eat, and how to prepare fish for cooking to reduce possible contaminants,” said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, 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, contaminants may make some fish unsafe to eat 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, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), 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.
This year’s changes to the advisory include:
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 the fish caught from the 20 bodies of water that are on the special mercury advisory, which have more restrictive meal advice because of high levels of methylmercury. These include; Ohio River, Rock River (Rockford to Milan Steel Dam), Arrowhead Lake, Campus Lake, Cedar Lake, Devil’s Kitchen Lake, Evergreen Lake, Heidecke Lake, Kinkaid Lake, Lake Bracken, Lake Renwick East, Lake in the Hills, Little Grassy Lake, Mt. Olive New City Lake, Little Wabash River and Tributaries, Marquette Park Lagoon, Midlothian Reservoir, Monee Reservoir, Sam Parr Lake, and Little Wabash River.
For fish that may contain PCBs and chlordane, the advisory provides consumption 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 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 in 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.
of Public Health
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Springfield, Illinois 62761
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