Illinois Fisherman Urged to Use Caution when eating Fish, Pollution Warning  


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KANKAKEE, Ill. – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is issuing a statewide warning to fisherman across the state due to high levels of methylmercury in waters.

IDPH is urging residents to use caution when eating the fish they’ve caught. The advisory comes as a response to the alarming presence of mercury in the water, primarily attributed to industrial pollution. Officials have identified a concerning cycle where the mercury enters the water through industrial activities, attaches to algae and aquatic plants, and subsequently contaminates the fish that feed on them.

In an effort to safeguard public health, IDPH recommends that pregnant women and children restrict their consumption of predatory fish, including bass, sauger, walleye, flathead catfish, gar, muskellunge, northern pike, trout, and salmon, to just one meal per week. By implementing this precautionary measure, officials hope to minimize the potential adverse effects of mercury exposure.

While a statewide methylmercury advisory applies to all Illinois waters, it is crucial for residents to adhere to more restrictive advisories if they exist. The following are specific recommendations for selected water bodies:

Kankakee, Will Counties

  • Kankakee River: Smallmouth Bass measuring 15″ or longer should be limited to one meal per week, reducing to one meal per month for women of childbearing age and children.
  • Contaminant: Methylmercury

Wilmington Dam to Illinois River

  • Common Carp of all sizes should be consumed no more than once per month.
  • Contaminant: PCBs

The presence of pollutants, particularly PCBs, is also a significant concern in various water bodies across the state. The North/South Branches of the Chicago River, North Shore Channel, and Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal are among the areas affected. Specific advisories for these locations include:

  • Common Carp measuring less than 12″ should be limited to six meals per year, while those measuring 12″ or longer should not be consumed.
  • Contaminant: PCBs
  • Channel Catfish measuring 18″ or longer should be consumed only once per month.
  • Contaminant: PCBs
  • Largemouth Bass of all sizes should be limited to one meal per month.
  • Contaminant: PCBs
  • Sunfish of all sizes should be consumed no more than once per week.
  • Contaminant: PCBs

The detrimental impact of industrial pollution extends to other regions as well. From Dresden Island Dam to Marseilles Dam, residents are advised to restrict consumption of Channel Catfish, Smallmouth Bass, and Common Carp of all sizes to no more than one meal per month due to PCB contamination.

Awareness about the risks associated with fish consumption is crucial for residents residing near Marseilles Dam to Starved Rock Dam. In this area, Channel Catfish should be consumed no more than once per month, while White Bass and Common Carp of all sizes should be limited to one meal per week, all due to PCB contamination.

Further downstream, from Starved Rock Dam to Peoria Pool, individuals are advised to limit their intake of Channel Catfish and White Bass to one meal per week. Common Carp can be consumed once per week, with additional precautions for women of childbearing age and children.

Contaminant: PCBs

In the stretch from Peoria Dam to the Mississippi River, residents are advised to limit their consumption of Black Crappie, Bighead Carp, Channel Catfish, and Silver Carp, due to both methylmercury and PCB contamination.

IDPH emphasizes the significance of adhering to these guidelines to ensure public health remains uncompromised. By staying informed about the safety of local water sources, residents can make informed decisions regarding their diet and protect their well-being. To view all local warnings, visit the IDPH website here.


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