KENNEWICK, Wash. — Catch and release? A recent study published by the Environmental Protection Agency points to freshwater fish as a “probable” source of PFAS exposure.
PFAS are part of a group of potentially dangerous toxins, also known as forever chemicals, that have been found in drinking water and everyday products.
KAPP KVEW wanted to know if this is the case in Washington state.
“The role is really to review the fish tissue data and then assess whether there is a human health risk associated with that. After we evaluate the data, if necessary, we will develop some kind of guidance that would be a fish consumption advisory.” Emerson Christie explained the Department of Health’s role in monitoring fish for PFAS and other toxins.
Christie, a toxicologist, said it’s a team effort to collect data on fish throughout Washington.
He said they often get data from native tribes, the Department of Ecology and the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“There are a number of ways that PFAS enter the environment — industrial uses or runoff of contaminated water, also old contaminated sites,” Christie said.
When it comes to the Mid-Columbia, should anglers be forever worried about chemicals in their fish?
Data is limited. But there was a discovery in 2016, from the Columbia River, just above McNary Dam.
“Largemouth bass have been above our current PFAS limit value now, no guidance has been issued on that because we just don’t have enough data yet,” he said.
In the same study, the experts reported that they found forever chemicals in 86 percent of their fish tissue samples and 100 percent of the Osprey eggs they sampled.
However, the levels of these chemicals were lower than in the previous 2008 study.
Currently, there are only advisories for Lake Sammamish, Lake Washington, and Lake Meridian, which are all on the western side of Washington.
Christie had this advice for anglers and consumers.
“Be aware of the advisories in your locations and try to eat fish that you know have fewer contaminants than whatever advisories are issued — try to eat lots of different types of fish from different sources,” he said.
The DOH still recommends that people get at least two servings of fish from clean sources per week. They have a dashboard where any notices are posted.
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