I always find the annual sport fish consumpition advisories from the Illinois Department of Health a thing of wonder.
As in I wonder, for instance, who, if anybody, wants to eat more than one meal a week of carp from the McKinley Park lagoon.
That is one of the additions in the 2010 Sport Fish Consumption Advisory.
The latest advisory can be found at http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/fishadv/2010_fish_advisories.pdf or in the 2010 Illinois Fishing Information booklet.
There's a fatal flaw in the advisories. It scares people who shouldn't be scared and on the other hand regular fishermen have learned to ignore or laugh at them.
The advisories need to be restructured to warn people about the truly dangerous fish advisories, of which there is very few in Illinois.
However, when my wife was pregnant or nursing, I paid attention and followed the advice strictly.
Here's the official word:
February 25, 2010
2010 Sports Fish Consumption Advisory
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced the 2010 consumption advisories for sport fish caught in Illinois waters. The following lakes and rivers are new to the advisory this year: Indian Camp Creek in Pulaski County, Centralia Lake in Marion County, Pana Lake in Shelby County, Lake Jacksonville in Morgan County and McKinley Park Lagoon in Cook 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 14 banned pesticides, industrial chemicals and methylmercury. 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 2010 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/2010_fish_advisories.pdf.
"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 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, found in fish listed on the advisories. 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.
This year's changes to the advisory include:Lake Depue, Bureau County - White bass of all sizes should be limited to one meal per month because of elevated levels of PCBs.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.
McKinley Park Lagoon, Cook County - Carp of all sizes should be limited to one meal per week because of elevated levels of PCBs.
Mazon River, Grundy County - Channel catfish of all sizes should be limited to one meal per week because of elevated levels of PCBs.
Horseshoe Lake, Madison County - Channel catfish smaller than 23 inches should be limited to one meal per week and larger than 23 inches should be limited to one meal per month because of elevated levels of PCBs. This advisory is less restrictive than the previous years.
Centralia Lake, Marion County - Carp larger than 27 inches should be limited to one meal per month and Channel Catfish larger than 17 inches should be limited to one meal per week because of elevated levels of PCBs.
Lake Jacksonville, Morgan County - Largemouth bass larger than 15 inches should be limited to one meal per month for sensitive populations and one meal per week for all others because of elevated levels of methylmercury.
Indian Camp Creek, Pulaski County - Carp larger than 19 inches should be limited to one meal per week because of elevated levels of PCBs.
Pana Lake, Shelby County - Largemouth bass larger than 16 inches should be limited to one meal per month for sensitive populations and one meal per week for all others because of elevated levels of methylmercury.
Marion City Reservoir, Williamson County - Bluegill larger than 7 inches and Yellow Bullhead larger than 9 inches should be limited to one meal per week because of elevated levels of PCBs.
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 22 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, Pana Lake, Lake Jacksonville, and 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 of fish:Before cooking, remove the skin from the fillet and cut away any fatty tissue from the belly and dorsal areas.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.
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.
Therefore, the only way to reduce mercury intake is to reduce the amount of contaminated fish eaten.