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Agencies recommend Lake Superior smelt consumption to only one serving per month

LANSING — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has been notified by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources of elevated perfluorooctane sulfonate levels in Lake Superior rainbow smelt.

To be protective of public health, MDHHS is matching WDNR’s guidance and issuing a precautionary Eat Safe Fish guideline recommending that individuals limit Lake Superior smelt consumption to one serving per month, according to an MDHHS news release.

For the MDHHS guidelines, a serving is considered to be an 8-ounce portion size for adults and 2- or 4-ounce portion size for children.

The precautionary guideline take effect immediately and replace the existing Eat Safe Fish guideline for Lake Superior smelt issued due to mercury, officials said.

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, in the release. “PFOS is a perfluoroalkyl substance associated with harmful effects in people, including reduced fertility, thyroid disease and liver damage.”

MDHHS is coordinating with 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, according to the release. MDHHS will then analyze these samples for contaminants, including PFOS.

Once this data is available, MDHHS will update existing smelt consumption guidelines for these waterbodies as needed, officials said.

“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,” the release states.

For more information, visit the Eat Safe Fish program website or call the MI-TOXICS hotline at 800-648-6942.

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