Fishing is a popular sport around here.  So is eating delicious fish caught in our local rivers and lakes. A new eye-raising research study casts doubt on whether eating freshly caught fish in lakes and rivers across the country is safe.

The study found that eating just one serving of freshwater fish each year could have the same effect as drinking water heavily polluted with forever chemicals for an entire month.

According to the study published Tuesday in Environmental Research, the equivalent monthlong amount of water would be contaminated at levels 2,400 times greater than what's recommended by the Food and Drug Administration.

Further, the research found that locally caught freshwater fish are far more polluted than commercial catches with per-and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS), also known as forever chemicals because they stay in the body and environment.

Fishing on the lake at sunset. Fishing background.
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Research in this study was centered on the Great Lakes, where levels of PFAS were way above safe levels. Does that mean we have nothing to worry about here in Tom Green County?

Think again. A press release dated October 22, 2020 from Goodfellow Air Force Base announced that the Air Force Civil Engineer Center sampled 47 off-base wells nearby to determine iff Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and Perfluorooctanoic Acid, or PFOS/PFOA, is present at levels above the Environmental Protection Agency’s lifetime health advisory, or HA, of 70 parts per trillion in drinking water.

Preliminary results indicate PFOS/PFOA may be present in levels above the EPA lifetime HA in some sampled wells north to northeast of the installation

Further, a 2021 Joint Groundwater Monitoring and Contamination report listed 12 sites in Tom Green County with groundwater contamination, including the PFA's found around Goodfellow Airforce Base and considerable contamination around the City of San Angelo Landfill, Northeast of San Angelo on the northside of Old US 62/277.

Garbage pile in trash dump or landfill. Pollution concept.
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Source

Joint Groundwater Monitoring and Contamination Report

Despite all this, the Environmental Protection Agency says eating fish from freshwater sources in the US is generally safe.  They have the following guidelines for reducing the health risks of eating fish containing chemical pollutants.

1. Look for warning signs or call your local or state environmental health department. Contact them before you fish to see if any advisories are posted in areas where you want to fish.

2. Select certain kinds and sizes of fish for eating. Younger fish contain fewer pollutants than older, larger fish. Panfish feed on insects and are less likely to build up pollutants.

3. Clean and cook your fish properly. Proper cleaning and cooking techniques may reduce the levels of some chemical pollutants in the fish.

Find out more here:

EPA Fish Brochure

We should all be concerned about chemicals leaking into our groundwater especially PFAS and the impacts on our health which can be considerable. They include liver and testicular cancers, and hormonal changes.

Let's just hope our favorite local bait and tackle shop doesn't have to start selling sports bras in men's sizes.

Photo: Amazon
Photo: Amazon
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Seriously, though, we should all demand and expect that polluters be held accountable and our children inherit streams and lakes with safe fish to enjoy.

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