Study Finds US Freshwater Fish Highly Contaminated with ‘Forever Chemicals’

A new study found bad news for fish fans. Eating just one serving of freshwater fish could have the same effect as drinking water heavily polluted with “forever chemicals” for an entire month, a new study finds.

The equivalent month-long amount of water would be contaminated at levels 2,400 times greater than what’s recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) drinking water health advisories, according to the study published in Environmental Research.

“Forever chemicals,” which are per and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS), are a family of thousands of human-made substances that do not break down in the environment. “Forever chemicals” are notorious for their persistence in the body and the environment, lasting forever. They have been widely used since the 1940s in a huge range of everyday consumer products and industrial processes.

The new research is damning for the environment and for food consumption. The study said that locally caught freshwater fish are far more polluted with these chemicals than commercial catches. 

Researchers from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzed 500 samples of locally caught fish filets from bodies of water across the USA.

They calculated that eating the contaminated fish equates to drinking a month’s water with a PFAS concentration of 48 parts per trillion – a level that may be harmful.

Forever chemicals are key ingredients in jet fuel firefighting foam, industrial discharge, and many household products, including certain types of food packaging. For decades, they have leached into drinking water supplies while also contaminating irrigated crops and fish that inhabit local waterways.

“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 senior scientist and the study’s lead author Dr. David Andrews.

There are about 12,000 PFAS in existence which have many uses, including in firefighting foams, the non-stick coatings on frying pans, and textiles.

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