Health and Fitness

Illinois Department of Public Health 2013 Sport Fish Consumption Advisory

SPRINGFIELD–(ENEWSPF)–March 19, 2013. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced the 2013 consumption advisories for sport fish caught in Illinois waters. This year, new advisories are being issued for the following lakes and rivers:

  • Crab Orchard Creek, Jackson County
  • Powderhorn Lake, Cook 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, 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 (DNR) and tested by IEPA. IDPH issues an annual consumption advisory based on the IEPA test results. The advisory also can be found on the IDPH website at:

“Fish can be an important part of a balanced diet and 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, how often and how to prepare the fish to reduce possible contaminants,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “While nutritious and low in fat, 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.

New 2013 advisories:

  • Crab Orchard Creek, Jackson County – dioxin
    → All Channel Catfish – one meal per week
  • Powderhorn Lake, Cook County – polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
    → All Carp – one mean per week
  • Waukegan North Harbor, Lake County – polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
    → All Rock Bass – one meal per month
    → All Black Bullhead – six meals per year
  • Lake Michican, Cook and Lake counties – polychlorinated biphenyls and methylmercury
    → Yellow Perch 11 inches and smaller – one meal per week
    → Yellow Perch larger than 11 inches – one meal per month

Relaxed advisories:

  • Lake Michigan, Cook and Lake counties – polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
    → Lake Trout less than 25 inches – one meal per month
    → Lake Trout between 25 and 29 inches – six meals per year
    → Lake Trout larger than 29 inches should not be eaten
    → All Chinook Salmon – one meal per month
    → Brown Trout 28 inches and smaller – one meal per month
    → Brown Trout larger than 28 inches – six meals per year
  • Mississippi River – polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
    → All Channel Catfish – one meal per week
  • Powerton Lake, Tazewell County – polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)→ All Channel Catfish – unlimited consumption

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 33 bodies of water that are on the special mercury advisory. These include:

  • Arrowhead Lake
  • Big Muddy River and Tributaries
  • Campus Lake
  • Carbondale City Reservoir
  • Cedar Lake
  • Devil’s Kitchen Lake
  • DuPage River (Headwaters to Route 6)
  • Evergreen Lake
  • Greenville Old City Lake (Patriot’s Park Lake)
  • Heidecke Lake
  • Mt. Olive New City Lake
  • Marquette Park Lagoon
  • Midlothian Reservoir
  • Monee Reservoir
  • Nippersink Creek
  • Ohio River
  • Pana Lake
  • Kinkaid Lake
  • Kishwaukee River
  • Lake Bracken
  • Little Grassy Lake
  • Lake in the Hills
  • Lake Jacksonville
  • Lake of the Woods
  • Lake Renwick East
  • Lake Sara
  • Little Wabash River and Tributaries
  • Pyramid State Park
  • Rock River (Rockford to Milan Steel Dam)
  • Sam Parr Lake
  • Siloam Springs Lake
  • Skillet Fork Creek
  • 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 the common 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.