Tittabawassee River Watch Editorial          Back to editorial page  

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Editor, The Saginaw News: August 27, 2007

The Michigan Department of Community Health has released a report of its "Fish Consumption Survey of People Fishing and Harvesting Fish from the Saginaw Bay Watershed." The final report is available at www.michigan.gov/mdch-toxics . Funding from the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network made the survey possible.

The department asked people fishing on the Tittabawassee, Saginaw and Shiawassee rivers and Saginaw Bay if they were aware of and used the advisory. The department also asked them what fish they were catching and eating and use the information to improve the advisory and increase public awareness of safe consumption of locally caught fish.

One troubling finding of the survey is that many people are eating carp, catfish and white bass that contain high levels of dioxins and other environmental contaminants. The department recommends against eating carp or catfish from the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers, and to extremely limit consumption of white bass. There are similar recommendations for eating fish from the bay. Walleye are less contaminated. River sediments and eroding floodplain soils have created dioxin and other contaminants in the fish.

These findings are a concern, considering that the University of Michigan Dioxin Exposure Study has shown that eating fish from the rivers and bay is linked to higher levels of dioxins in humans. The study shows some people may be eating more fish than the people who were part of the study.

Until dioxins and other contaminants are removed from river sediments and upland soils, eating certain fish from these waters will continue to pose a hazard. The department is working with local community groups in Saginaw to increase awareness of the advisory and safe consumption of locally caught fish. The advisory is available at www.michigan.gov/mdch  or by calling (800) 648-6942.

T.J. Bucholz

public information officer
Michigan Department of Public Health

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