Michigan Fish Contaminant Monitoring
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Michigan Department of Environmental Quality-Water Division
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SubjectMichigan Department of Environmental Quality-Water Division; 2002; Michigan; fish; watershed
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality-Water Division (MDEQ-WD) has analyzed nearly 15,000 fish tissue samples collected since 1980. The MDEQ-WD conducts fish contaminant monitoring to address four goals. The first goal is to support the development of the Michigan Department of Community Health’s (MDCH’s) Michigan Fish Advisory. Edible-portion sample results are used by the MDCH to issue general and specific advisories against eating certain sport fish from Michigan’s surface waters. The second goal is to support the regulation of commercial fisheries in the waters of the state. The Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) uses edible-portion monitoring results to regulate sales of the commercial catch. The third goal of the fish contaminant monitoring is to identify spatial differences and temporal trends in the quality of Michigan’s surface waters. Temporal trends and spatial differences are examined by collecting whole-fish and caged-fish samples in addition to the edible-portion samples. Finally, the fourth goal of the fish contaminant monitoring is to evaluate whether existing pollution prevention, regulatory, and remedial programs are effectively reducing chemical contamination in the aquatic environment. To achieve this goal, fish tissue samples are used to identify waters that are attaining or not attaining the designated uses described in Michigan's Water Quality Standards (MWQS), identify sources of pollutants, and track the effectiveness of remedial actions. Fish contaminant analyses are limited to chemicals with high bioaccumulation potential in fish tissue. The presence of even extremely low concentrations of some bioaccumulative pollutants in surface water can result in fish tissue concentrations that pose a human or wildlife health risk.