A Michigan environmental nonprofit organization tested freshwater fish caught around the state and found they all contained substances often called “forever chemicals,” according to Press release posted on Thursday.
“It just goes to show how ubiquitous these chemicals are in the environment,” Erica Bloom, director of the toxics campaign at the Center for Ecology, told the guardian.
The chemicals detected were perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, a group of manufactured chemicals They break down extremely slowly, which means they can accumulate over time in the environment and in the human body. PFAS are often used in manufacturing and they’re also present in a host of consumer goods, including nonstick cookware, stain repellents, and food packaging, among others.
The Environmental Protection Agency warn that “Exposure to certain levels of PFAS” can cause health problems in humans that may include reproductive problems, failure to thrive, hormonal interference, and cancer.
In Michigan, the Center for Ecology worked with local fishermen to catch 100 fish from 15 sites along the state’s Huron and Rouge rivers. The researchers tested 12 different species of commonly eaten fish, including bluegill, sea bass, and river chub.
Fourteen different PFAS chemicals were detected, with a range of 11,000 to 133,000 parts per billion. A particular chemical, known as PFOS, was found in all of the fish.
Michigan issues a “do not eat” advisory when PFOS levels reach 300,000 parts per billion. However, the EPA recommended limit for PFOS in drinking water it is 0.02 parts per trillion, which The Guardian notes indicates that almost no amount is considered safe for consumption.
The Michigan Center for Ecology wants to not only make its PFOS advisory guidelines more stringent, but also set guidelines for other PFAS chemicals.
The new results are in line with an unaffiliated study. published by the scientific journal Environmental Research in December That report said that consumption of freshwater fish is “probably a significant source of exposure” to PFOS. Fish in the Great Lakes and urban areas were found to have especially high levels of contamination.
“You would have to drink an incredible amount of water — we estimate a month of contaminated water — to get the same exposure you would get from a single serving of freshwater fish,” said David Andrews, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group who co-authored the December Study, told CNN.