Eating fish is an important part of a healthy diet, providing a low calorie source of healthful proteins and fats. Most fish are safe to eat, but some can accumulate contaminants that can pose health risks if eaten too much. Thus, fish are a key indicator for determining water quality. In Illinois, contaminant levels in sport fish are monitored through a cooperative effort between the Departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Public Health, and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, called the Fish Contaminant Monitoring Program (FCMP).
Fish samples are collected from 40-50 stream, river, and inland lake and 4 Lake Michigan open water stations each year, plus 4 Lake Michigan harbor stations are collected every 3-4 years. The FCMP’s target from these collections is to provide around 250 samples to the Illinois EPA laboratory for analysis of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and methylmercury. The analytical results are then reviewed by the FCMP to determine the need for issuing, modifying, or cancelling a consumption advisory or for following up on sample results.
Advisory information for specific water bodies is available from the Department of Public Health web site.