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State: Safe to eat deer from Oakland County's Proud Lake but avoid organs

Evan James Carter
The Detroit News

White-tailed deer harvested from Proud Lake Recreation Area in Oakland County are safe to eat except for the organs, state health officials said Wednesday.

After not finding PFAS in the heart and muscle samples it collected, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services concluded that consumption guidelines are not needed for deer harvested in the recreation area. The announcement comes one day after Michigan’s bow-hunting deer season began.

The deer's kidneys and liver may contain higher levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances than the muscle, so the health department recommends that people not eat the organs.

White-tailed deer in Michigan

Testing of white-tailed deer from the Proud Lake Recreation Area was prompted by the finding of levels of PFOS in surface water and fish tissue samples taken from the Huron River watershed in August 2018, the health department said.

Tests performed by the state health department on samples of kidney, heart, liver and muscle from 20 white-tailed deer harvested in the recreation area in April found no PFAS in the heart or muscle samples. But it did find amounts of PFOS, a type of PFAS, in the kidney and liver samples.

Muscle and liver samples from the deer also were tested for PCBs and other chemicals. None of chemicals tested for were not found in the muscle samples, while some liver samples had low levels of PCBs.

Last year more than 120 white-tailed deer from across the state were sampled and tested for PFAS according to the state health department. 

Test results showed high levels of PFOS in one deer from near Clark’s Marsh in Oscoda Township, resulting in a “Do Not Eat” deer advisory for the area, the health department said.

PFAS can build up over time in the blood and organs of wild game, fish and humans exposed to these chemicals through the food they eat and the water they drink, the health department said.

Studies of people who were exposed to PFAS found links between the chemicals and increased risk of liver damage, thyroid disease, pre-eclampsia, decreased fertility and small decreases in birthweight, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. 

More information about PFAS in wild game and fish can be found at and more information about wild game consumption can be found at

Twitter: @EvanJamesCarter