According to recent research, consuming one freshwater fish from a river or lake in the United States is the same as consuming one month’s worth of water tainted with dangerous “forever chemicals.” The PFAS, or perfluorinated alkyl substances, were created in the 1940s to withstand heat and moisture and are now used in non-stick cookware, clothing, firefighting foams, and food packaging.
However, PFAS—per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances—are indestructible, which means that over time, the contaminants accumulated in the air, soil, lakes, rivers, food, drinking water, and even human bodies.
PFAS have been linked to a number of major health problems, including as liver damage, elevated cholesterol, impaired immunological responses, and various cancers, prompting calls for tougher regulation.
Between 2013 and 2015, a research team examined more than 500 samples from rivers and lakes across the United States to determine the presence of PFAS contamination in locally caught fish.
According to research that was written up in the journal Environmental Research, the median concentration of PFAS in the fish was 9,500 nanograms per kilogramme.
One of the most prevalent and dangerous of the several varieties of PFAS, PFOS, made up nearly three quarters of the “forever chemicals” that were discovered.
The researchers concluded that consuming one freshwater fish would be equivalent to consuming water with 48 parts per trillion of PFOS for a month.
The PFOS concentration in drinking water that the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe was dropped to 0.02 parts per trillion last year.
According to the study, the overall PFAS concentration in the freshwater fish was 278 times higher than that discovered in fish that is sold commercially.
Agence France-Presse spoke with David Andrews, a senior scientist at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, who oversaw the research. Andrews said he grew up fishing and eating fish.
According to Andrews, one of the study’s authors, “I can no longer look at a fish without thinking about PFAS contamination.”
The impact on underprivileged populations that use fish as a source of protein or for social or cultural reasons made the findings “especially alarming,” he continued.
Because PFAS-using and manufacturing businesses have not been held accountable, I am tremendously enraged by this research.
PFAS are “perhaps the greatest chemical hazard the human race is facing in the 21st Century,” according to Patrick Byrne, an environmental pollution expert at the Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom who was not involved in the study.
He told AFP that the study was significant since it was the first proof of a widespread transmission of PFAS from fish to people.
The use of PFAS for any non-essential purpose must halt, according to Andrews, who advocated for considerably stricter regulation.
The study comes after a proposal to prohibit PFAS was presented on Friday to the European Chemicals Agency by Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.
The five nations discovered that PFAS weren’t effectively managed and that a bloc-wide regulation was required, the agency said in a statement. This led to the proposal, which it called “one of the biggest in the EU’s history.”
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