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    Study shows eating one wild fish same as month of drinking tainted water

    PARIS (AFP) – Eating one freshwater fish caught in a river or lake in the United States (US) is the equivalent of drinking a month’s worth of water contaminated with toxic “forever chemicals”, new research said yesterday.

    The invisible chemicals called PFAS were first developed in the 1940s to resist water and heat, and are now used in items such as non-stick pans, textiles, fire suppression foams and food packaging.

    But the indestructibility of PFAS, per – and polyfluoroalkyl substances, means the pollutants have built up over time in the air, soil, lakes, rivers, food, drinking water and even our bodies.

    There have been growing calls for stricter regulation for PFAS, which have been linked to a range of serious health issues including liver damage, high cholesterol, reduced immune responses and several kinds of cancer.

    To find out PFAS contamination in locally caught fish, a team of researchers analysed more than 500 samples from rivers and lakes across the US between 2013 and 2015.

    The median level of PFAS in the fish was 9,500 nanogrammes per kilogramme, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Research.

    Nearly three quarters of the detected “forever chemicals” was PFOS, one of the most common and hazardous of the thousands of PFAS. Eating just one freshwater fish equalled drinking water with PFOS at 48 parts per trillion for a month, the researchers calculated.

    Last year the US Environmental Protection Agency lowered the level of PFOS in drinking water it considers safe to 0.02 parts per trillion.

    The total PFAS level in the freshwater fish was 278 times higher than what has been found in commercially sold fish, the study said.

    A senior scientist at the non-profit Environmental Working Group which led research David Andrews told AFP he grew up catching and eating fish. “I can no longer look at a fish without thinking about PFAS contamination,” said Andrews, one of the study’s authors.

    The findings were “particularly concerning due to the impact on disadvantaged communities that consume fish as a source protein or for social or cultural reasons”, he said.

    “This research makes me incredibly angry because companies that made and used PFAS contaminated the globe and have not been held responsible,” he added.

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