By John Patterson
Staff Writer for Wake Up World
In a startling revelation, new research has exposed the alarming truth about the contamination of freshwater fish in the United States with toxic “forever chemicals.”
These per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), developed in the 1940s for their resistance to water and heat, have now become an insidious threat, infiltrating not only our rivers and lakes but also the very fish we consume. The consequences are dire, with a single serving of freshwater fish equivalent to consuming a month’s worth of water tainted with these invisible contaminants.
The Silent Culprit: PFAS in Everyday Products
PFAS are omnipresent, lurking in everyday items such as non-stick pans, textiles, fire suppression foams, and food packaging. Their indestructibility has led to a buildup over time in the air, soil, lakes, rivers, and even within our bodies. Despite their widespread use, the toxicity of PFAS has been linked to severe health issues, including liver damage, high cholesterol, reduced immune responses, and various forms of cancer.
Unveiling the Extent: Research Findings
A team of dedicated researchers undertook a comprehensive analysis, examining over 500 samples from rivers and lakes across the United States between 2013 and 2015. The results, published in the journal Environmental Research, revealed a median PFAS level of 9,500 nanogrammes per kilogram in the tested fish. Of significant concern was the detection of PFOS, one of the most common and hazardous PFAS, constituting nearly three-quarters of the “forever chemicals” found.
Equivalent to a Month’s Worth: Shocking Calculations
The gravity of the situation becomes apparent when considering that consuming just one freshwater fish is tantamount to drinking water contaminated with PFOS at 48 parts per trillion for an entire month. This revelation starkly contrasts with last year’s decision by the US Environmental Protection Agency to lower the considered safe level of PFOS in drinking water to a mere 0.02 parts per trillion.
Disparities and Urgent Calls for Action
The findings are particularly distressing for disadvantaged communities that rely on fish as a protein source or for social and cultural reasons. David Andrews, a senior scientist at the non-profit Environmental Working Group, emphasizes the need for stringent regulation to curb all non-essential uses of PFAS. The study underscores the urgent necessity to hold companies accountable for the global contamination caused by these chemicals.
A Global Issue: International Efforts and Proposals
The study coincides with a proposal submitted by Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden to the EU’s European Chemicals Agency. Described as “one of the broadest in the EU’s history,” the proposal calls for a ban on PFAS, citing insufficient control and the need for bloc-wide regulation. As the world grapples with the profound implications of PFAS contamination, international collaboration is paramount in addressing what some experts deem the “greatest chemical threat” of the 21st century.
The revelation of PFAS contamination in freshwater fish serves as a wake-up call, urging us to reevaluate our relationship with these “forever chemicals.” As health concerns escalate and international efforts intensify, the time has come for stringent regulations and responsible practices to ensure the safety of our water, our food, and ultimately, our health. The invisible threat must be unveiled, confronted, and eradicated for the well-being of current and future generations.
Locally caught freshwater fish across the United States are likely a significant source of exposure to PFOS and other perfluorinated compounds – https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2022.115165
About the author:
John Patterson is an avid writer and researcher who delves into the latest scientific research. With an insatiable curiosity, he translates complex concepts into accessible narratives, allowing readers to embark on a journey of discovery. Through his work, John bridges the gap between experts and the public, igniting curiosity and inspiring meaningful conversations about scientific breakthroughs.