Modern Dangers of Eating Freshwater Fish
Historically, freshwater fish (i.e. bass, trout, catfish) has been a nutritious choice because they are high in protein and higher in minerals than most saltwater fish. Freshwater fish can be harvested in lakes, rivers, and streams.
However, in a recent study, the majority of freshwater fish can be dangerous to eat because they contain high levels of PFAS.
What are PFAS?
PFAS stands for perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances (includes PFOS, PFOA, and PFHxS). They’ve been around since the 1950s and have more recently been termed “forever chemicals” because they don’t naturally break down in the environment…Meaning they remain permanently in the air, soil, water, or in our bodies.
These forever chemicals, which can be found in commonly used products (such as food packaging, firefighting foam, floor polishes, cosmetics, non-stick cookware, clothing, stain-resistant carpeting and other fabrics, etc.), can–and actually already have–seeped into the soil, water, and air. This widespread contamination of chemicals is quite alarming as it is harmful to us and the environment.
Mode of Exposure to PFAS
We can be exposed to forever chemicals in a variety of ways. Food boxes and packaging used in pizzas and fast food can contain them. Drinking water from a well contaminated with them is another. Since these chemicals are found in some cosmetics, using makeup near the eyes or mouth is a possible way they can get into the body.
We are now seeing evidence of PFAS in freshwater fish which makes them dangerous to eat. While this newsletter is focusing on freshwater fish, forever chemicals have also already seeped into livestock and other animals via their food and water supply.
Researchers looked into freshwater fish of about 500 samples from rivers and lakes across the United States between 2013 and 2015. The result is really shocking. According to their study, eating one serving of freshwater fish could be the same as drinking water with PFOS at 48 parts per trillion for a month. Simplified, it is 2,400 times more than what the EPA allows in drinking water.
The Potential Health Risks of Forever Chemicals
The EPA says that forever chemicals may cause the following:
- Decreased fertility
- High blood pressure in pregnant women
- Developmental delays in children
- High risk for some cancers
- Low immunity
- Disrupted hormones
- Increased cholesterol levels
- High risk for obesity
While the government is apparently taking active steps to solve this issue that has long been overlooked, what do we do in the meantime? Clearly these forever chemicals are bad for our health. Avoiding them entirely may not be possible, but now that you know more about the sources, you can minimize your exposure (reduce use of plastics, check labels on cosmetics or packages and choose ones that are labeled free of PFAS/PFOS, avoid eating freshwater fish, and support your health in other ways (diet and lifestyle). We should be aggressive in keeping ourselves healthy so that our body is more resilient to the toxins we aren’t able to avoid.
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