September 26, 2021

State drops ‘do not eat’ advisory for Illinois River fish

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois public health officials have dropped a “do not eat” advisory for sport fish in the Illinois River for the first time since the 1970s.

The Illinois Department of Public Health relaxed the warning because concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, have declined, the Chicago Tribune reported. The toxic contaminants were banned in 1979 but stick around in the environment, prompting the advisory.

IDPH issues advisories annually based on fish samples collected from 40 to 50 streams, rivers, and inland lakes, as well as from four stations in Lake Michigan. They are geared toward vulnerable populations including pregnant and nursing women, and children younger than age 15.

The department said there is no known immediate health hazard from eating contaminated fish in Illinois. But there are “concerns about the effects of long-term, low-level exposure” to contaminants including PCBs.

Guidance also was relaxed for some Lake Michigan fish, including whitefish and rainbow trout. Recommended consumption is now no more than one meal a week. Previous guidance was to limit consumption to once per month.