Fish Tissue Contaminant Monitoring


The Fish Tissue Contaminant Monitoring Program provides information on contaminant levels in fish inhabiting streams and lakes in Kansas. Fillet samples are obtained from selected water bodies and analyzed by the U.S. EPA laboratory in Kansas City for contaminants of potential human health significance. In consultation with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, the resulting analytical data are used to determine the need for issuing, maintaining, or rescinding fish consumption advisories at the monitored locations. Whole-fish samples are obtained from several long-term monitoring sites and analyzed for selected organochlorine pesticides, toxic metals, and other contaminants. Whole-fish data are used to track the occurrence of bioaccumulative agents within the ecological food web and to ascertain long-term trends in environmental condition. Currently, the KDHE fish tissue database comprises about 18,200 analytical records, representing more than 200 sites and 83 detected contaminants.

Fish tissue samples normally are obtained each year from 30-50 water bodies across the state. Prior to 2006, sampling efforts focused primarily on streams and lakes with known water quality problems and/or existing fish consumption advisories. Beginning in 2006 and 2007 random sampling of lakes, rivers, and streams was initiated in order to provide data for many areas of the state where little or no data existed. Although chlordane traditionally was the contaminant of greatest concern in Kansas, due to dramatic declines of this contaminant in fish in recent years, attention has shifted gradually to mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, and a few other persistent contaminants. The agency recently has devoted a greater proportion of its monitoring resources to the collection and analysis of predatory fish from recreational reservoirs. This initiative acknowledges concerns about mercury levels in freshwater fish and the potential for mercury-related health problems, especially in more vulnerable segments of the human population (e.g., children and women of child bearing age). Click here to see an EPA factsheet on mercury contamination in fish.

Program Manager:
, Environmental Scientist, 785-291-3676

Program Staff:
, Environmental Scientist, 785-291-3885