Precautionary consumption guideline issued for Lake Superior smelt

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LANSING, Mich. (WJMN) – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a precautionary Eat Safe Fish guideline recommending that individuals limit Lake Superior smelt consumption to one serving per month.

The guideline was issued because the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) notified MDHHS of elevated perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) levels in Lake Superior rainbow smelt. MDHHS is matching WDNR’s guidance on fish consumption.

The MDHHS guidlines consider a serving to be an 8-ounce portion for adults and a 2- or 4-ounce portion for children. The precautionary guideline takes effect immediately and replaces the existing Eat Safe fish guideline for Lake Superior Smelt issued due to mercury. MDHHS will update the smelt guideline once additional Michigan data is available later this year.

“This precautionary guideline is based on data shared by Wisconsin, which shows elevated levels of PFOS in Lake Superior rainbow smelt,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “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.”

MDHHS, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and other agencies to collect smelt from Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and some inland lakes. MDHHS will analyze the samples for contaminates including PFOS. MDHHS will update existing smelt consumption guidelines for these waterbodies as needed after data is available.

MDHHS Eat Safe Fish guidelines are not regulatory. MDHHS makes this information available to help Michiganders make safer choices when it comes to choosing and eating fish. For more information, visit the Eat Safe Fish program website or call the MI-TOXICS hotline at 800-648-6942.

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