SPRINGFIELD, Ill.–(ENEWSPF)–January 21, 2011. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced the 2011 consumption advisories for sport fish caught in Illinois waters. This year, new advisories are being issued for the following lakes and rivers: Big Muddy River and tributaries in Washington, Jefferson, Perry, Franklin, Jackson and Williamson counties; DuPage River in DuPage County; Lake Sara in Effingham County; Nippersink Creek in McHenry County; Bureau Creek in Bureau County; and Elkhorn Creek in Whiteside County. Additionally, several less-restrictive advisories have been issued this year.
The Illinois Fish Contaminant Monitoring Program screens fish samples from approximately 40 bodies of water each year for contamination from 14 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. IDPH issues an annual consumption advisory based on the IEPA test results. This year’s advisory is included in the 2011 Illinois Fishing Information booklet, which is available from IDNR and from businesses that sell state fishing licenses. The advisory also can be found on the IDPH Web site http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/fishadv/illinois_fish_advisory.pdf.
“The advisories are not meant to discourage people from eating fish, but should be used as a guideline to help people decide the types of fish to eat and how often,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold. “Fish are a good source of high quality protein and other nutrients and are low in fat. However, 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 hazard 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. Methylmercury 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.
The changes to the 2011 advisory include:
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB levels)
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 may eat unlimited quantities of predator fish, with the exception of the fish caught from the 26 bodies of water that are on the special mercury advisory. These include:
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.
Several ways to reduce any PCBs and chlordane present in edible portions of fish include:
Remove the skin from the fillet and cut away any fatty tissue from the belly and dorsal areas before cooking.
Broil, bake or grill in a way that allows fat to drip away.
Discard fat drippings or broth from broiled or poached fish. Do not use in other dishes.
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.