This “Healthy,” Fresh Food May be Worse For You Than Tainted Water


( – There’s been a push to reduce or avoid the intake of red meats for years. However, a recent study found that consuming a so-called “healthy” fresh food alternative might be worse for people than drinking tainted water.

The upcoming March 2023 edition of Environmental Research contains the results of a 2022 study linking “locally caught freshwater fish” to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

The project found that eating one serving of fish equaled drinking a month’s supply of water containing 48 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFOS, which are part of the broader group of chemicals in the PFAS family. Putting this in context, the EPA’s latest drinking water health advisory for PFAS chemicals set the cautionary level at 10 ppt. The agency considers drinking water safe if it contains less than 0.02 ppt of PFAS substances.

That may sound like a bunch of gobbledygook. However, it’s quite simple when broken down.

What’s All the Hype About PFOS and PFAS?

The US Environmental Protection Agency explains that perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances are a group of manufactured chemicals used in various consumer products since the 1940s. Due to their heat and water-resistant properties, they’re commonly used in everyday items like non-stick surfaces for cookware, food packaging, adhesives, furniture, and electrical wire insulation. Unfortunately, the decades-long use of these dangerous substances led to the widespread contamination of rivers and lakes, the atmosphere, and soil, earning them the nickname “forever chemicals.”

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), an entity within the US Department of Health and Human Services, explained the possible relationship between PFAS and “harmful health effects” in humans on its website.

According to the ATSDR, recent studies involving humans suggested that high levels of some PFAS can lead to

  • Changes in liver enzymes
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Heightened risk of kidney and testicular cancer
  • Small decreases in infant birth rates
  • Increased risk of high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia in pregnant women

The research paper’s publication followed a push by several European nations to ban PFAS throughout the EU. Scientists and experts in the US have suggested a similar approach to their continued use. In the meantime, people should consider their potentially harmful effects when opting to eat freshwater fish.

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