Kansas DHE Issues Revised Fish Consumption Advisories



Topeka, KA — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), has issued revised fish consumption advisories for 2012. The advisories identify types of fish or other aquatic animals that should be eaten in limited quantities or, in some cases, avoided altogether because of contamination.

Fish consumption advisories are formulated using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) risk assessment methods. Cancer risk assessment is a method to determine the added increase in cancer levels in a human population if fish in the advisory areas are consumed regularly (one 8-ounce serving per week) over a 70-year period. Assessments that estimate the increased risk of cancer as greater than one in 100,000 persons are regarded as unacceptably high. Risk assessments for contaminants assessed as non-carcinogens (mercury, lead, cadmium) are based on 8-ounce serving sizes for adults and 4-ounce serving sizes for children nine to 18 years old. For further technical information, go online to water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/fishshellfish/techguidance/

Water body-specific advisories

  • KDHE provides the following guidelines:
  • Do not eat bottom-feeding fish (carp, blue catfish, channel catfish, flathead catfish, freshwater drum, bullheads, sturgeons, buffalos, carpsuckers and other sucker species) taken from the Kansas River from Lawrence (below Bowersock Dam) downstream to Eudora at the confluence of the Wakarusa River (Douglas and Leavenworth counties) because of PCB levels;
  • Avoid eating all forms of aquatic life, including fish, taken from Horseshoe Lake located in units 22 and 23 of the Mined Lands Wildlife Area (Cherokee County) because of perchlorate levels;
  • Do not eat shellfish (mussels, clams, and crayfish) taken from Spring River from the confluence of Center Creek to the Kansas/Oklahoma border (Cherokee County) because of lead and cadmium levels;
  • Do not eat shellfish taken from Shoal Creek from the Missouri/Kansas border to Empire Lake (Cherokee County) because of lead and cadmium levels;
  • Do not eat bottom-feeding fish taken from Cow Creek in Hutchinson and downstream to the confluence with the Arkansas River (Reno County) because of PCB levels; and
  • Do not eat bottom-feeding fish taken from the Arkansas River from the Lincoln Street dam in Wichita downstream to the confluence with Cowskin Creek near Belle Plaine (Sedgwick and Sumner counties) because of PCB levels.

The state recommends restricting consumption of any species of fish from the following locations:

  • Little Arkansas River from the Main Street Bridge immediately west of Valley Center to the confluence with the Arkansas River in Wichita (Sedgwick County). Limit of one 8-ounce serving per month for adults or one 4-ounce serving per month for children for all types of fish because of mercury and PCBs;
  • Blue River from U.S. 69 Highway to the Kansas/Missouri state line (Johnson County). Limit of one 8-ounce serving per week for adults or one 4-ounce serving per week for children for all types of fish because of mercury; and
  • Kansas counties with current fish consumption advisories include Cherokee, Douglas, Johnson, Leavenworth, Reno, Sedgwick, and Sumner.

General advice for eating locally caught fish in Kansas

  • Women who are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are nursing and parents of children under twelve years of age may wish to consult with their physician about safe levels of fish consumption and mercury exposure. This sensitive group should restrict their total mercury intake as related to both supermarket fish and locally-caught species. Kansas recommends that this sensitive group restrict consumption of locally-caught fish, from waters not specifically covered by an advisory, to one 8-ounce meal per week for adults or one 4-ounce meal per week for children.
  • People who regularly consume locally caught fish (more than one meal/week) can reduce their mercury intake by limiting their consumption of large predatory fish such as largemouth bass, walleye, and wiper. Larger/older fish of all types are more likely to have higher concentrations of mercury.
  • Available data comparing contaminant levels in whole fish versus fillets indicate that higher concentrations of PCBs and some other fat soluble contaminants are associated with whole fish. Kansas recommends avoiding the consumption of parts other than fillets, especially when eating bottom feeding fish.
  • Consumers can reduce their ingestion of fat soluble contaminants such as PCBs by eating fillets only, trimming fat from fillets, and cooking in a manner in which fat drips away from the fillet.
  • In water bodies where advisories or warnings related to harmful algae blooms have been applied, fish should be consumed in moderation and care taken to only consume skinless fillets. Avoid cutting into internal organs, and as a precaution rinse fillets with clean water prior to cooking or freezing.

It should be recognized that eating fish is considered an integral part of a healthy and balanced diet. Concerned consumers should educate themselves by seeking further information about the health benefits and risks of eating fish.

Details of monitoring efforts and protocols may be found in the Fish Tissue Contaminant Monitoring Program Quality Assurance Monitoring Plan on the KDHE website at www.kdheks.gov/environment/qmp/download/FTCMP_QAMP.pdf .

Information on the Kansas Fish Tissue Contaminant Monitoring Program can be found at www.kdheks.gov/befs/fish_tissue_monitoring.htm . Advisories are also posted on the KDWPT website at kdwpt.state.ks.us/news/Fishing/Are-My-Fish-Safe-To-Eat .

For further information about mercury in fish, national advisories, and advisories in other states, go to the EPA website at www.epa.gov/fishadvisories/advice .

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