DSORe POLL S927


Results for POLL S926

Are you optimistic that we can control the spread of aquatic invasive species?

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Do you feel comfortable eating Lake Michigan fish?

 

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“Eating fish from Lake Michigan: comfortable or not?

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photo c. Dan Small OUTDOORS, LLC ©2014

PCBs levels continue to decline in key Lake Michigan sport fish

MADISON — New research shows a continuing decline in PCB levels in key Lake Michigan sport fish more than 30 years after regulations on manufacture, use and disposal were put into place.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources researchers Paul Rasmussen, Candy Schrank and Meghan Williams, in a paper published in the June 16 online edition of the Journal of Great Lakes Research, describe a statistical model based on fish samples collected from 1975 to 2010 that quantified how toxic polychlorinated biphenyls have diminished in chinook and coho salmon — two prized fish among sport anglers and home chefs. The researchers found that over time, the rate of decline has moderated – from decreases of 16.7 percent annually in chinook and 23.9 percent annually in coho from 1975 to the mid-1980s – to decreases of 4 percent per year in chinook and 2.6 percent per year in coho from the mid-1980s to 2010.

“Although the rate of decline has slowed from the early days of the ban, the continuing improvement is significant,” said Candy Schrank, an environmental toxicologist and fisheries expert with DNR. “PCBs remain the contaminant of greatest concern for the health of people who eat fish from Lake Michigan and these findings will help us evaluate ongoing efforts to reduce the amount of chemical contamination entering the lake and to learn about how PCBs move in the environment.”

Until their U.S. ban in 1979, PCBs were used to make electrical transformers, carbonless papers, cutting oils and hydraulic fluids. However, because the man-made PCBs are slow to break down in the environment, they remain a problem today along with continuing sources of contamination such as mercury.

The new study and its supporting data are among a number of factors taken into account as DNR monitors for multiple contaminants to update fish consumption advisories designed to protect the health of people who eat fish. The current advisory recommends that people should eat no more than one meal per month of chinook and coho salmon from Lake Michigan. While the new PCB data are not expected to result in a short-term advisory change, they signify an important, positive trend.

Schrank said the DNR study of coho and chinook mirrors the findings of other researchers with respect to PCB concentrations in water, gull eggs and lake trout from Lake Michigan as well as some fish in Lake Ontario. The DNR research took into account the size of the fish (older, larger fish accumulate more chemicals over time) and seasonal changes (salmon gorge themselves on smaller fish during the summer and contain higher fat and chemical concentrations in fall).

In a separate study published earlier this month in the Journal of Great Lakes Research, Schrank, Williams and Dr. Henry Anderson from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported on the concentration of beneficial fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 in key Wisconsin sport fish including Lake Michigan coho and chinook.

“These and other Wisconsin sport fish contain enough healthy omega-3 and other beneficial compounds that they don’t need to be eaten every day to provide cardiovascular advantages,” Schrank said. “In fact, an eight ounce serving of coho or chinook provides nearly twice the daily intake of healthy compounds recommended for the prevention of heart disease by the Harvard School of Public Health.”

Read the abstract of the PCB study and the beneficial fatty acid study. Further information on Wisconsin’s fish consumption advice can be found by searching the DNR website for eating your catch.

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