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Mapping Reveals the Extent of PFAS Contamination in Fish across US Lakes and Streams

Map Shows Where PFAS Contaminate Fish in US Lakes, Streams

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been a major concern for environmentalists in recent years due to their widespread presence and potential health risks. These man-made chemicals, commonly found in firefighting foams, non-stick cookware, and water-repellent fabrics, are known for their persistence in the environment and the human body.

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Notre Dame has shed light on the extent of PFAS contamination in the United States. The study used data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create an interactive map that displays the locations where PFAS-contaminated fish have been found across the country.

The map, titled “PFAS-Predict,” visualizes the distribution of PFAS-contaminated fish in lakes and streams throughout different regions of the US. By clicking on specific locations, users can access detailed information on the specific types and concentrations of PFAS found in fish at each site.

The researchers analyzed data from over 40,000 samples taken from nearly 4,000 water bodies across 45 states. They found that PFAS-contaminated fish were present in all regions of the United States, with the highest concentrations observed in the Northeast and the Upper Midwest.

It is concerning to note that PFAS are known to accumulate in the bodies of fish and other marine organisms. As a result, individuals who consume contaminated fish can be exposed to these harmful chemicals, which can potentially lead to adverse health effects such as developmental delays, liver damage, and an increased risk of certain cancers.

The interactive map aims to raise awareness about the extent of PFAS contamination in the US and help policymakers, researchers, and the general public develop strategies to address this pressing issue. By identifying areas of high contamination, authorities can implement measures to reduce the use and release of PFAS into the environment, as well as initiate efforts to clean up contaminated sites.

Furthermore, the map can provide valuable information to anglers and consumers, allowing them to make informed decisions about where and what fish to catch or purchase. By avoiding fish from heavily contaminated areas, individuals can reduce their exposure to these harmful chemicals and protect their health.

The study also underscores the need for more comprehensive monitoring and regulations regarding PFAS contamination in water bodies. As of now, the EPA has set a health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion for two commonly found PFAS chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). However, these chemicals are just two of thousands of PFAS compounds, and the true extent of their prevalence and potential risks remains unclear.

In conclusion, the interactive map developed by the University of Notre Dame provides a valuable tool for understanding the distribution of PFAS-contaminated fish in US lakes and streams. It highlights the urgent need for further research, monitoring, and regulation to address this growing concern. By working together, we can strive towards a future where our water bodies are free from the harmful impacts of PFAS contamination, ensuring the health and well-being of both humans and the environment.

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