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Eat no more than one serving per month of Lake Superior smelt, says Michigan health department

The guideline was created due to data shared by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that showed elevated PFOS in Lake Superior rainbow smelt
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A news release issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services states that due to elevated levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), area residents should limit the amount of Lake Superior smelt consumed.

"The guideline was created due to data shared by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) that showed elevated PFOS in Lake Superior rainbow smelt."

Analysis of the smelt for other contaminants is ongoing.

Full text of the release follows:

LANSING – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) continues to recommend that people eat no more than one serving per month of smelt from Lake Superior due to elevated levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), a perfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS).

For MDHHS Eat Safe Fish guidelines, a serving size is eight ounces for adults and two or four ounces for children.

This precautionary fish consumption guideline was first issued by MDHHS on March 24, 2021. The guideline was created due to data shared by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) that showed elevated PFOS in Lake Superior rainbow smelt. At the time, MDHHS did not have data on PFOS levels in Lake Superior smelt but chose to match WDNR's guidance and issued a consumption guideline as a precautionary measure. MDHHS recommended the guideline stay in effect until there was enough data to reevaluate.

In 2021, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy along with other partners collected smelt from several locations in Lake Superior and its related watershed. Early results from MDHHS PFAS analysis indicate that PFOS levels in smelt collected in Michigan are similar to smelt collected in Wisconsin.

Analysis of the smelt for other contaminants of concern is still underway. Until all data is available, MDHHS recommends that the guideline of one serving per month remain in place for smelt from Lake Superior. When all data is available, MDHHS will update the guidelines for smelt.

MDHHS makes Eat Safe Fish guidelines 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 800-648-6942.

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