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Don't Eat PFAS Fish

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Exposure to PFAS from eating fish is the subject of an article written by a group of Fairbanks researchers.  Anglers who eat their catch risk ingesting the chemicals linked to a range of health problems, including cancer.

Fisheries biologist Kevin Fraley and scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks reviewed existing research on fish consumption as a human PFAS exposure pathway. Fraley says there’s not a lot of information available, but one study conducted in Sweden provided some insight.

…the general public.”     

Fraley says that inspired the team to test 2 fish samples from local waters. One from a burbot caught in the Chena River near where groundwater is polluted from historic use of PFAS firefighting foams at Fairbanks International Airport. That sample did not show elevated levels, but a second sample from a pike caught in Peger Lake where there’s similar contamination from the Fairbanks Fire Fighting Training Center, did.

…pike in there.”

Fish testing has turned up elevated PFAS levels in a variety of species caught in numerous Interior waters and resulted in some closures and restrictions in the North Pole and Eielson Air Force Base areas. Fraley emphasizes that a lot more fish testing needs to be done, and pointing to growing number of PFAS contamination sites locally and statewide, recommends anglers know the areas they fish.

…where you harvest.”  

Fraley says PFAS bioaccumulates and biomagnifies in fish elevating the exposure risk from eating larger, longer living species. 

…the food chain.”

Fraley currently works for the Arctic Beringia program, which is launching a pilot study looking for PFAS in subsistence fish collected in Beaufort Sea area communities.

Dan has been in public radio news in Alaska since 1993. He’s worked as a reporter, newscaster and talk show host at stations in McGrath, Valdez and Fairbanks. Dan’s experience includes coverage of a wide range of topics, from wolf control to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and dog mushing.