Mercury in Michigan - Learn to Eat Safe Fish

Contact: Angela Minicuci 517 241-2112

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - October 25, 2011

LANSING - A recent report by the Biodiversity Research Institute, Great Lakes Commission and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse cited that while environmental controls have limited the amount of new mercury pollution in our Great Lakes region, the levels of mercury found in some species of fish in local waterways have continued to increase.

While most locally-caught fish are a healthful, low-fat source of protein and can be safely eaten, consumption of some fish should be limited. For this reason, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) issues the Michigan Fish Advisory to help people choose fish that are low in mercury and other contaminants.

"With the evidence of increasing mercury levels in some areas, it's important for Michigan residents to consult the Michigan Fish Advisory when deciding which fish to consume," said Olga Dazzo, Director of the MDCH.

Unlike other chemicals sometimes found in fish, you cannot reduce the amount of mercury in fish by cleaning and cooking it a certain way. You also cannot see or taste mercury in fish. The only way to detect mercury in fish is by having it tested by a laboratory.

This is why, each year, filets from fish taken from lakes and rivers around the state are tested for mercury and other chemicals at the MDCH Laboratory. The results from these tests allow MDCH to determine which species of fish are more likely to have higher levels of mercury than others.

MDCH uses the test results from the fish filets to develop consumption advice that protects everyone who eats the fish. The results, published in the Michigan Fish Advisory, can help you choose fish that are safe to eat for your entire family. Since Michigan has more than 11,000 lakes, streams and rivers to fish in, not all bodies of water have had fish tested for mercury. The MDCH Statewide Mercury Advisory provides general information on safe fish to eat from lakes that have not been tested and included in the Michigan Fish Advisory.

You can use the MDCH Eat 8 tool to help you select store-bought fish that are lower in mercury. Eat 8 features commonly purchased fish that have been assigned points based on the amount of mercury reported by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Eat eight points or less per month to stay within the accepted limits of mercury consumption to avoid health effects.

You can get a copy of the Michigan Fish Advisory, the Eat 8 tool, and learn more about choosing safe fish by visiting www.michigan.gov/eatsafefish or by calling the MDCH Division of Environmental Health at (800) 648-6942.

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