Monday, December 11, 2023

MD Issues Fish Consumption Advisories for PFAS

Balmer Sun, Maryland issues new advisories for fish contaminated with PFAS; crabs and oysters given all-clear

About two years after issuing its first-ever fish consumption advisory associated with PFAS contamination, Maryland issued a slew of new warnings.

The state’s first advisory in 2021 was limited to the Piscataway Creek in Prince George’s County, which runs near Joint Base Andrews and empties into the Potomac River near Fort Washington. But this round is far more comprehensive, following years of testing of different fish species for PFAS — so-called “forever chemicals” known to cause cancer and other health problems — at locations frequented by recreational anglers in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

The dozens of new advisories released Friday by the Maryland Department of the Environment are spread across Maryland waterways, and cover a variety of fish species. The largest number of new advisories were assigned to large and smallmouth bass, sunfish including bluegill, and white perch, according to a document provided to the Baltimore Sun.

Most of the advisories don’t recommend not eating those fish, but rather limiting how many are consumed. Blue crabs and oysters in Maryland waters were tested for PFAS as well, but the results indicated no need for meal limits, according to the MDE, which conducts the monitoring and issues the advisories.

Only a few fish species in the Piscataway should be avoided altogether by the general population because of PFAS contamination, according to MDE. The data also showed children should avoid consuming Northern snakeheads caught in the Mattawoman Creek, large and smallmouth bass in the Conococheague Creek and sunfish in the Monocacy River.

For the remainder of the advisories, MDE recommended a maximum number of servings a person should have per month, given the potential for negative health impacts. Those span from one serving every other month to eight in a month.. . .

Based on the sampling results, Maryland officials used federal guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to tabulate how much of any one fish would be safe for consumption, Apperson said.

It’s estimated that if a person ate more than the recommended amount of a given fish every month for 30 years, they would face a 1-in-10,000 risk of negative health outcome, according to MDE.

During a public meeting Wednesday about the new fish advisories, some attendees expressed worry that Maryland’s use of the current federal standards may mean its advisories don’t go far enough.

I ran through the advisories for anything of interest to me. I found it interesting that Black Sea Bass, a species we occasionally catch in the mainstem of the Bay, has an advisory to only eat 2 meals a month (only 1 for children) based on PFAS. It would be hard to catch enough of them here to eat more than one meal a month, though, of course, you should consider the exposure cumulative with other fish. Black Sea Bass in the Bay are migratory, coming into the Bay from the ocean in the warmer months. If they are contaminated with PFAS, they must be getting it out in the ocean, or at least on their way up the Bay.

The Wombat has Rule 5 Sunday: Outstanding In Her Field out at the Other McCain.

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