Precautionary consumption guideline issued for Lake Superior smelt

Michigan

The shore of Lake Superior in Marquette, Michigan.

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD/WJMN) — The state is advising people to limit the amount of Lake Superior smelt they eat after elevated levels of a likely carcinogen were found in some fish.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recommends people should only eat one serving of Lake Superior rainbow smelt per month. The guidelines consider a serving to be an 8-ounce portion for adults and a 2- or 4-ounce portion for children.

MDHHS issued the precautionary Eat Safe Fish guideline after the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources notified the state of elevated perfluorooctane sulfonate, PFOS, levels in some Lake Superior rainbow smelt.

A likely carcinogen, PFAS has also been linked to several other illnesses, including ulcerative colitis, liver damage and some problems during pregnancy. The class of chemicals has been found in everything from Scotchgard to food wrappers to a type of foam used to fight jet fuel fires.

The precautionary guideline takes effect immediately. The Eat Safe Fish guidelines are not regulatory, but MDHHS makes this information available to help Michiganders make safer choices when it comes to choosing and eating fish.

“This precautionary guideline is based on data shared by Wisconsin, which shows elevated levels of PFOS in Lake Superior rainbow smelt,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, said in a news release. “PFOS is a perfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) associated with harmful effects in people, including reduced fertility, thyroid disease and liver damage. We will update this guideline once the department has additional data.”

Several state agencies collect smelt from Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and some inland lakes. The samples are tested for contaminants, including PFAS.

MDHHS will update the smelt guideline once more data is available later this year.

More information can be found on the Eat Safe Fish program website or by calling the MI-TOXICS hotline at 800.648.6942.

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