Toxic ‘Forever Chemical’ PFOs Found in Freshwater Fish Across U.S.

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Jan. 17, 2023 -- Freshwater fish caught in the nation’s rivers and the Great Lakes had dangerous levels of a toxic additive that has leached into the nation’s drinking water, a new study says.

The synthetic toxin is PFOS, or perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, which the federal government has phased out. It is part of bigger groups of additives called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. These have been used in consumer products for decades and are known as “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down normally.

The chemicals have infiltrated drinking water and settle in fish, livestock, dairy and other animals that go into the nation’s food supply.

The Environmental Protection Agency data was analyzed by Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit environmental health organization. The analysis was published in Environmental Research.

EWG says the EPA allows 70 parts per trillion of PFOS in drinking water, but recommended last year it be lowered to 0.02 parts per trillion. PFOS formerly were an ingredient in 3M’s Scotchgard and stain repellants.

But 8,000 parts per trillion was common in the analyzed freshwater fish.

That means that eating one serving of fish could deliver the same level of PFOS as drinking the contaminated water for a month, the group says.

“The median amounts of PFAS in freshwater fish were an astounding 280 times greater than forever chemicals detected in some commercially caught and sold fish,” EWG wrote. “Consuming a single meal of freshwater fish could lead to similar PFAS exposure as ingesting store-bought fish every day for a year.

CNN reported that PFAS chemicals are linked to high cholesterol, cancer and chronic diseases, and limited antibody response to vaccines, citing the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.