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Harmful 'forever chemicals' found in freshwater fish in Montana, US

Freshwater fish
Posted at 10:33 AM, Feb 01, 2023

HELENA - A recent study found that freshwater fish throughout the United States contain significant PFAs or forever chemicals.

“I mean, Montana’s known as the last best place. And I think that's especially true when it comes to our fishing resources. But, you know, we're not immune to contamination or contaminants. These were used here just like they were used all across the country, PFAS was,” said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Pakrs (FWP) Pollution Control Biologist Trevor Selch.

PFAS or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are used in hundreds of industrial and consumer products such as food packaging and waterproof or stain-resistant fabrics. These chemicals can leech into water, food, and even onto dust that can be inhaled.

Conducted by the Environmental Working Group, the study found that median levels of PFAS in freshwater fish were 278 times higher than the PFAS levels in commercial fish tested. The study says that mitigating sources of PFAS exposure is an urgent public health priority.

“So, they've been linked to effects on the liver, as well as the central immune system. And they’re also a known carcinogen. So, there's a number of deleterious health effects from these contaminants,” said Selch.

Selch says that this study has spurred him and the DEQ to test fish samples throughout Montana this upcoming summer. Then, using EPA guidelines, they will be able to deliver fish consumption guidelines in order to dictate safe levels of consumption in regard to PFAS.

“Ultimately, we’ll take the concentrations we find and transfer those into meal guidance. And so, it's hard to know based on what EPA comes out with their criteria what that's going to lead to,” says Selch.