Despite being phased out a dozen years ago, a persistent chemical formerly used in Scotchgard still contaminates bass and other fish in the Great Lakes, and urban rivers, according to a recent study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Researchers found perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) in all of the 157 fish sampled from nearshore waters in the Great Lakes and in 73 percent from 162 rivers.
“This just shows that PFOS still dominates,” said Craig Butt, a Duke University chemist. “Even though production stopped more than a decade ago, it’s still the main perfluorinated acid in the environment.”
PFOS is a suspected endocrine disruptor that has been linked to low birth weights, reduced immune system function in children, and high blood pressure during pregnancy. EPA hasn’t established a “safe” dose for humans, but Minnesota health officials recommend eating only one meal of fish per week if PFOS concentrations are 40 to 200 parts per billion, and only one meal per month if 200 to 800 parts per billion.
About 11 percent of the fish samples from U.S. rivers and 9 percent from the Great Lakes exceeded 40 parts per billion.
The 3M Company, a major manufacturer of PFOS, voluntarily stopped production in 2002, after scientists discovered the chemical was building up in water, wildlife, and people. PFOS and other perfluorinated compounds were used in oil- and water-resistant coatings for clothes, carpet, paper, cookware, and flame-retardant foams.
(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)