Keep a close watch on those fish
By Bob Maciulis
The Star (IL)
Published February 24th, 2005
A new booklet from Illinois Sea Grant asserts that, while
fish caught from area lakes and rivers are chock full
of nutrients, they are often contaminated with pollutants
that can have serious health effects, particularly on
growing babies and children.
Due to language, cultural or other barriers, many who
depend on "catching their dinners" may not be
in the information loop to understand about local pollution
A new education program, Fish School: Taking Stock of
Risks and Benefits, will involve scientists, nutritional
experts, extension educators, teachers and students who
will reach out to southern Lake Michigan communities at
school fairs and local festivals to raise awareness about
the risks, as well as the benefits of eating fish in those
who need it the most, women in their child-bearing years
and families who fish for their food.
"The Calumet River is one of the most polluted rivers
in the country, yet many immigrants regularly fish along
its banks as they did in their countries of origin,"
according to Diana Dummit, Illinois Science Teachers Association's
former executive director who is now the associate director
of development in the University of Illinois, College
"Even those who don't fish can be at risk,"
Leslie Dorworth added she is a Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant
water quality specialist. "Due to limited resources,
some people rely on canned tuna to provide a significant
portion of their diet. On the other hand, others believe
that lakes and rivers are unclean and simply stop eating
fish. But fish are an important part of a healthy diet."
To help strike a balance, the Illinois Science Teachers
Association and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) are
working together with other agencies and universities
to foster creative ways for people to learn from each
other. "Brochures can have all the right information,
but the reality may not sink in," said Dummitt.
With funding from United States EPA Great Lakes National
Program Office, Fish School begins on May 21 with a one-day
workshop for 20 middle and high school science, health,
and food and nutrition teachers in the region to learn
the latest research data about fish consumption concerns
directly from scientists and to work with University of
Illinois Extension educators to develop teaching programs
and plan health expos. Teachers interested in participating
in this workshop can find more information on the IISG
Web site at www.iisgcp.org/edk-12/FishSchool/index.htm.