Locally caught fish in rivers and lakes could be a major source of exposure to "forever chemicals" PFAS, new research has warned Photo: AFP/File
health

Eating one wild fish same as month of drinking tainted water in U.S.: study

8 Comments
By Daniel Lawler

Eating one freshwater fish caught in a river or lake in the United States is the equivalent of drinking a month's worth of water contaminated with toxic "forever chemicals", according to new research.

The invisible chemicals called PFAS were first developed in the 1940s to resist water and heat, and are now used in items such as non-stick pans, textiles, fire suppression foams and food packaging.

But the indestructibility of PFAS, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, means the pollutants have built up over time in the air, soil, lakes, rivers, food, drinking water and even our bodies.

There have been growing calls for stricter regulation for PFAS, which have been linked to a range of serious health issues including liver damage, high cholesterol, reduced immune responses and several kinds of cancer.

To find out PFAS contamination in locally caught fish, a team of researchers analyzed more than 500 samples from rivers and lakes across the United States between 2013 and 2015.

The median level of PFAS in the fish was 9,500 nanograms per kilogram, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Research.

Nearly three quarters of the detected "forever chemicals" was PFOS, one of the most common and hazardous of the thousands of PFAS. Eating just one freshwater fish equalled drinking water with PFOS at 48 parts per trillion for a month, the researchers calculated.

Last year the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lowered the level of PFOS in drinking water it considers safe to 0.02 parts per trillion.

The total PFAS level in the freshwater fish was 278 times higher than what has been found in commercially sold fish, the study said.

David Andrews, a senior scientist at the non-profit Environmental Working Group which led research, told AFP he grew up catching and eating fish.

"I can no longer look at a fish without thinking about PFAS contamination," said Andrews, one of the study's authors.

The findings were "particularly concerning due to the impact on disadvantaged communities that consume fish as a source protein or for social or cultural reasons," he added. "This research makes me incredibly angry because companies that made and used PFAS contaminated the globe and have not been held responsible."

Patrick Byrne, an environmental pollution researcher at the UK's Liverpool John Moores University not involved in the research, said PFAS are "probably the greatest chemical threat the human race is facing in the 21st century".

"This study is important because it provides the first evidence for widespread transfer of PFAS directly from fish to humans," he told AFP.

Andrews called for much more stringent regulation to bring an end to all non-essential uses of PFAS.

The study comes after Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden submitted a proposal to ban PFAS to the EU's European Chemicals Agency.

The proposal, "one of the broadest in the EU's history," comes after the five countries found that PFAS were not adequately controlled, and bloc-wide regulation was needed, the agency said in a statement.

© 2023 AFP

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.


8 Comments
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The report does not surprise me. The other day our 8yo boy asked about going swimming in a nearby reservoir this summer and all I could think about are the brain eating amoeba that has killed kids swimming in freshwater lakes and the algae that kills dogs in less than an hour after exposure, something known to infest that lake in the summer.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Great job unrestrained development and sales of PFAS has poisoned the planet for future generations, similar to how plastic was invented and spread everywhere.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The report does not surprise me. The other day our 8yo boy asked about going swimming in a nearby reservoir this summer and all I could think about are the brain eating amoeba that has killed kids swimming in freshwater lakes and the algae that kills dogs in less than an hour after exposure, something known to infest that lake in the summer.

Wow. Sounds like something out of Stephen King's Creepshow

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Plastics were a fundamental catalyst for everything from food safety and poverty reduction to gender equality. And there is risk/reward in everything, from Covid to plastic to fish.

You won't live forever if you dodge every nanothreat. But you may well ruin your life trying.

Scientists can find danger anywhere, because there is risk everywhere. And like politicians, as anyone in academic science will tell you, they each have their own agenda. If you removed food products from your diet when there was a scare story about them, you would have starved long ago.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Seems to me that the American government puts more emphasis on corporate profits than it does on the public welfare. Government regulations should be used to protect the people, and not just profits for the 1%.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Wow. Sounds like something out of Stephen King's Creepshow

Truth is stranger than fiction:

https://iheartdogs.com/lake-algae-toxic-to-dogs-may-be-forming-in-us/

https://www.cbsnews.com/losangeles/news/toxic-algal-blooms-detected-big-bear-lake-lake-isabella/

https://www.webmd.com/brain/brain-eating-amoeba

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Rachel Carlson's "Silent Spring" was published almost 60 years ago to the day.

In the broad scheme of things, while progress on the danger of chemicals has been made, the ongoing poisons for profit mentality of Inc and the wink wink of govts is quite breathtaking.

The 20th / 21st Cs will be told in history as the era of a number of puzzling things - World War Killing fields for one and the Global Killing fields of citizens by Industro-chemical products, most of which have been produced to make life more "Modern & Easier"..

Quite insane really.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Still probably better than eating the processed garbage the average modern day American consumes.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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