Are My Fish Safe To Eat?


The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) are issuing revised fish consumption advisories for 2012. The advisories identify types of fish or other aquatic animals that should be eaten in limited quantities or, in some cases, avoided altogether because of contamination. Fish consumption advisories are formulated using EPA risk assessment methods. Cancer risk assessment is a method to determine the added increase in cancer levels in a human population if fish in the advisory areas are consumed regularly (one 8-ounce serving per week) over a 70-year period. Assessments that estimate the increased risk of cancer as greater than one in 100,000 persons are regarded as unacceptably high. Risk assessments for contaminants assessed as non-carcinogens (mercury, lead, cadmium) are based on 8-ounce serving size for adults and 4-ounce serving size for children nine to eighteen years of age. For further technical information please visit:

General advice for eating
locally caught fish in Kansas
  1. Women who are pregnant, may become
    pregnant, or nursing and parents of children
    under twelve years of age may wish to consult
    with their physician about safe levels of fish consumption
    and mercury exposure. This sensitive
    group should restrict their total mercury intake as
    related to both supermarket fish and locally
    caught species. Kansas recommends that this
    sensitive group restrict consumption of locally
    caught fish, from waters not specifically covered
    by an advisory, to one 8 oz. meal per week for
    adults or one 4 oz. meal per week for children.
  2. People who regularly consume locally
    caught fish (more than one meal/week) can
    reduce their mercury intake by limiting their
    consumption of large predatory fish such as
    largemouth bass, walleye, and wiper.
    Larger/older fish of all types are more likely to
    have higher concentrations of mercury.
  3. Available data comparing contaminant levels
    in whole fish versus fillets indicate that higher
    concentrations of PCBs and some other fat
    soluble contaminants are associated with whole
    fish. Kansas recommends avoiding the consumption
    of parts other than fillets, especially
    when eating bottom feeding fish.
  4. Consumers can reduce their ingestion of fat
    soluble contaminants such as PCBs by eating fillets
    only, trimming fat from fillets, and cooking in
    a manner in which fat drips away from the fillet.
  5. In waterbodies where advisories or warnings
    related to harmful algae blooms have been
    applied, fish should be consumed in moderation
    and care taken to only consume skinless fillets.
    Avoid cutting into internal organs and as a precaution
    rinse fillets with clean water prior to cooking
    or freezing.

It should be recognized that eating fish is considered an integral part of a healthy and balanced diet. Concerned consumers should educate themselves by seeking further information about the health benefits and risks of eating fish. As the state’s environmental protection and public health agency, KDHE promotes responsible choices to protect the health and environment for all Kansans. Through education, direct services and the assessment of data and trends, coupled with policy development and enforcement, KDHE will improve health and quality of life. We prevent illness, injuries and foster a safe and sustainable environment for the people of Kansas. Details of monitoring efforts and protocols may be found in the Fish Tissue Contaminant Monitoring Program Quality Assurance Monitoring Plan on the KDHE website at: Information on the Kansas Fish Tissue Contaminant Monitoring Program can be found at: . Advisories are also posted on the KDWP website at: For further information about mercury in fish, national advisories, and advisories in other states please visit the EPA website at: