Study Warns of Potential Health Risks from PFAS Contamination in Seafood

by Ella

A recent study conducted by Dartmouth College has shed light on the potential health risks associated with consuming seafood, despite its well-documented health benefits. The research, published in the journal Exposure and Health under the title “Patterns of Seafood Consumption Among New Hampshire Residents Suggest Potential Exposure to Per‐ and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances,” surveyed 1,829 New Hampshire residents to assess their seafood intake and its impact on health.

The study revealed that commonly consumed seafood varieties such as salmon, haddock, shrimp, and canned tuna were found to contain 26 different forms of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as forever chemicals. Of particular concern, shellfish like shrimp and lobster exhibited higher concentrations of PFAS compared to fish.


PFAS are notorious for their persistence in the environment and the human body, earning them the moniker “forever chemicals.” Due to their resistance to degradation, PFAS can pose significant health risks when consumed via food or beverages. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has linked PFAS exposure to adverse effects on cholesterol, liver enzymes, immune function, vaccine response, and an increased risk of cancer, particularly in vulnerable populations such as pregnant individuals and infants.


The study underscored that New Hampshire residents, who exhibited higher-than-average seafood consumption compared to the national average, may face elevated risks of PFAS exposure. This highlights the importance of understanding the potential hazards associated with seafood consumption and making informed dietary choices.


However, the study did not advocate for complete avoidance of seafood but emphasized the need for individuals to weigh the risks and benefits associated with seafood consumption. According to the study’s authors, Megan Romano, a professor of epidemiology at Dartmouth, and her colleagues, it is crucial to develop public health messaging that effectively communicates the risk-benefit trade-off of seafood consumption.


Interestingly, the study suggested that opting for smaller fish species, such as salmon substitutes, might offer a potential solution to reduce PFAS exposure. Smaller fish tend to have shorter lifespans and consume lower levels of aquatic toxins, thereby presenting a lesser risk of PFAS accumulation.

On a positive note, recent initiatives have been undertaken to address PFAS contamination in drinking water. The Biden-Harris Administration announced a $1 billion investment to establish the first-ever national drinking water standard for PFAS. This landmark regulation aims to safeguard the drinking water of approximately 100 million Americans by setting legally enforceable limits for several PFAS compounds, as determined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan emphasized the administration’s commitment to addressing PFAS contamination, acknowledging the long-standing challenges faced by communities across the country. While this investment represents a significant step forward in ensuring safer drinking water, there remains a pressing need for continued efforts to improve water quality on a global scale.



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