Health officials update fish consumption guidance for Mississippi River’s Hastings pool


The Minnesota Department of Health has new and updated guidance on fish consumption for the Mississippi River from St. Paul to Wabasha, due to a mixture of pollutants — including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — found in fish tissue.
The new guidance, issued with support from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), applies to U.S. Lock & Dam #2 Pool located above the dam in Hastings, U.S. Lock & Dam #3 Pool near Red Wing and U.S. Lock & Dam #4 Pool near Alma, WI, including all of the Minnesota lakes and backwaters. It recommends that:
People who are or may become pregnant, people who are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed, and children under age 15 do not eat fish from these locations.
People not planning to become pregnant and those over age 15 limit fish consumption to one serving a month from these locations.
The guidance for Pools 3 and 4 is new, and the guidance for Pool 2 is more stringent than guidance issued last summer. MPCA provided the data to toxicologists and risk assessors at MDH, who then updated the fish consumption guidance.
“For most people, fish are part of a nutritious, well-balanced diet, because they provide a good source of protein and are rich in essential vitamins and minerals,” MDH Assistant Commissioner Myra Kunas said, “but the Minnesota Department of Health encourages people to limit their intake of fish from certain waterbodies to avoid potential negative health impacts.”
PFAS are harmful chemicals that have been widely used for decades and do not break down in the environment. They can accumulate not just in fish but also in people, and they have been linked to developmental effects in children as well as various cancers. Minnesota has therefore been taking action to eliminate PFAS.
The state has begun to implement a new law prohibiting PFAS in products, also known as Amara’s Law, which the State Legislature passed and Governor Tim Walz signed in 2023. The law ends avoidable PFAS use in Minnesota by 2032, with prohibitions on PFAS in certain categories of products beginning in 2025.
MDH, DNR and MPCA work together to review scientific information about PFAS and other contaminants in waterbodies and fish and their potential impact on human health in order to provide Minnesotans with the information they need to make informed choices for the health and safety of their family.