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PFAS in Locally Caught Fish: Threats to health & environmental justice

January 31 , 1:00 pm 2:00 pm EST

Efforts to address PFAS contamination have been primarily directed at exposure from drinking water. However, a recent study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found high PFAS levels in locally caught freshwater fish across the United States.

Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly known as “forever chemicals,” can be found in soil and water, in fish, and in our bodies. This study found that consuming just one serving of fish can be equivalent to drinking water contaminated with high levels of PFAS (48 parts per trillion) for a month.

PFAS are associated with human health harms, including cancer, heart disease, birth defects, liver disease, and decreased immunity. Rural and Indigenous communities, relying on freshwater fish as part of their traditional diet and culture, can be at higher risk from these health threats.

Many states have PFAS-related fish consumption advisories, but Alaska lacks regulations and health guidelines for PFAS contamination. Several lakes in Alaska have fish consumption warnings due to PFAS contamination from firefighting foam. PFAS exposure is a significant issue in Alaska also due to atmospheric transport and ocean currents carrying pollutants from all over the planet to the Arctic.

In this webinar, CHE-Alaska will host EWG’s Dr. Tasha Stoiber and ACAT’s Pamela Miller to discuss PFAS contamination in freshwater fish, and how it represents an environmental justice issue for communities that depend on locally caught fish for sustenance and traditional cultural practices.

Dr. Stoiber will present a recent study on PFAS contamination in freshwater fish across the country. Dr. Miller will discuss PFAS contamination and related legislation specific to Alaska.

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