January 27, 2023

EWG Study: Eating One Freshwater Fish a Month Problematic

A new study from Environmental Working Group (EWG) says that eating one freshwater fish a month is equivalent to a month of drinking water contaminated with forever chemicals, or PFOS, at levels that might be harmful to your health. PFOS, or perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, is one of the so-called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment.

EWG Study: Eating One Freshwater Fish a Month Problematic

PFOS are found in food packaging, nonstick cookware, firefighting goats, and waterproof clothing. They, along with other PFAS chemicals, have been linked with the development of testicular and kidney cancer, weakened immunity, low birth weight, and endocrine disruption, along with fertility problems, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

These chemicals are everywhere, including in our food and our bodies. Diet may be a major source of these chemicals.

The EWG study found that the median amounts of PFAS in freshwater fish were 280 times greater than the chemicals in some commercially caught fish. The testing data came from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the FDA. The chemical found at the greatest concentration in these fish was PFOS, which was a chemical used to make Scotchgard.

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

Researchers analyzed more than 500 samples of fish fillets collected from rivers, lakes, and streams in the United States from 2013 to 2015 under programs conducted by the EPA, the Great Lakes Human Health Fish Fillet Tissue Study, and the National Rivers and Streams Assessment. The median level of total PFAS in these fillets was 9,500 nanogram per kilogram.  Higher levels were found in fish caught in the Great Lakes and in urban areas.

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