U.S. Freshwater Fish Loaded with Toxic PFAS

By now, you have probably heard a lot about PFAS. These chemicals have been used in manufacturing everyday household and personal care products since the 1940s. They make pans non-stick, items stain or water-resistant, and they have even made their way into many other products like children’s toys and cosmetics.

PFAS take a very long time to break down in the environment and, over time, have contaminated our air, water, soil, and livestock.

In fact, these “forever chemicals” are truly everywhere. They have even been found in the blood samples and lungs of humans, even in newborn babies.

New research points to another concerning source of contamination.

An analysis of samples of freshwater fish from rivers and lakes across the United States revealed that nearly all tested high in dangerous PFOS, short for perfluoroctane sulfonic acid, a known synthetic toxin, and type of PFAS.

Fish tested from the Great Lakes and urban areas appeared to have the highest levels of toxic chemicals. But even fish that were nowhere near industrial sources (where PFAS are often dumped nearby) tested positive for the substances.

PFOS are linked to reproductive, developmental, immunological, and liver effects and certain cancers.

Environmental Working Group (EWG) scientists behind the study say that eating just a single serving of freshwater fish per year could be equal to a month of drinking water contaminated with PFAS.

They also found that freshwater fish contained 280 times more PFAS than commercially wild-caught fish sold in stores. In fact, the contamination in just ONE freshwater fish was equivalent to eating store-bought fish every day for a year.

“People who consume freshwater fish, especially those who catch and eat fish regularly, are at risk of alarming levels of PFAS in their bodies,” said David Andrews, Ph.D., EWG senior scientist and one of the study’s lead authors.

Study authors are calling on the EPA to issue an advisory for those who consume freshwater fish and to crack down on industries responsible for continuing to pollute our environment and waterways with PFAS.

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