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Michigan releases new fish consumption guidelines for rainbow smelt and carp caught in various lakes

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has released new Eat Safe Fish guidelines for rainbow smelt and carp from seven different lakes across the state.

The updated Eat Safe Fish guidelines recommend limiting the consumption of certain locally caught smelt and carp based on levels of chemicals found in the commonly eaten parts of the fish.

The new rainbow smelt guidelines are based on elevated levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) found in the smelt. PFOS is a chemical in the family of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and can build up in fish and in people who eat these fish. The new Eat Safe Fish consumption guidelines for rainbow smelt include limiting Lake Michigan catch to one serving per month two servings per month from Gull Lake in Kalamazoo County.

MDHHS is also releasing two new guidelines for carp based on elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Like PFOS, PCBs take a very long time to break down in the environment and can build up in fish and in people who eat these fish.

These new guidelines and others previously published in the MDHHS Eat Safe Fish Guides for lakes and rivers statewide can help Michiganders find safer fish to eat and reduce exposure to chemicals that can cause harmful health effects. The Eat Safe Fish Guides are currently being updated for 2023 and will include these new carp and smelt guidelines along with others pending analysis. To view the regional 2022 Eat Safe Fish Guides, visit Michigan.gov/EatSafeFish and click on “Find Your Area.”

It is important to note that fish from some areas in Michigan are more contaminated than others. By using the Eat Safe Fish Guide, Michigan fish consumers can be confident they are making informed choices about eating the fish they catch from their local lake or river. Eat Safe Fish guidelines are not laws or regulations, and no one is required to follow them.

For more information on where to find, prepare, eat or buy safe fish, visit Michigan.gov/EatSafeFish or call MDHHS Division of Environmental Health Hotline at 800-648-6942.

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