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Great Lakes Article:

Ohio's standards on fish provide better protection
Port Clinton News Herald
03/23/04



We've all seen the reports: A state agency releases information that fish from Lake Erie or one of its tributaries isn't safe to eat or that we should eat only certain amounts.

We can take this information to heart, because the state agency has completed testing that shows how much toxic contamination the fish have been exposed to.

Unfortunately, a report earlier this month from an environmental group says we can't put all of our trust into those reports, because standards and testing varies widely among the states that make up the Great Lakes basin.

The good news, however, is that Ohio's testing seems to be stricter than the other states that the environmental group studied, so perhaps Ohioans can place greater trust in what Ohio agencies say about consumption of fish from Lake Erie.

The same can't necessarily be said about advisories put out by Michigan agencies, even though Michigan is testing Lake Erie waters just as Ohio is.

"Same fish, same lake, different advice," is the way that Ilan Levin put it in an interview with The Associated Press. Levin is counsel for the Rockefeller Family Fund's Environmental Integrity Project and author of the report on Great Lakes water quality testing.

"If not for the fact that these are deadly serious health concerns, the inaccuracies would be almost comical," he said.

The report looked at standards and testing in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin. New York and Pennsylvania were not included because, the report said, those states use different testing methods in addition to different standards.

All the states included in the report test for chemicals in the water, but only Ohio also tests the health of fish and insects. "... that gives Ohio a better view of the waterways," Molly Flanagan, spokeswoman for the Ohio Environmental Council, told the AP.

Besides fish contamination, the report also was critical of how some states determine whether waters are safe to swim in. Again, Ohio -- along with Michigan and Indiana -- appear to do a better job of testing than some of the other states, according to the report.

We're happy that Ohio has adopted the stricter standards for water quality testing, but other Great Lakes states should follow suit to protect their own residents and to make sure accurate information is collected throughout the basin.


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