UAF Study Finds Only Scant Amount Of ‘Forever Chemicals’ On Arctic Fish Researched

Good study from the University Alaska, Fairbanks about how Arctic coastal fish have smaller amounts of chemical contamination in comparison to samples taken in other regions in North America and abroad. Here’s more from the UAF research:

The study looked for the presence of PFAS
, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a broad category of harmful synthetic chemicals that don’t naturally degrade. That characteristic has earned them the nickname “forever chemicals” as they persist and accumulate in the environment, contaminating sites across Alaska and throughout the world.

“Once these substances get into the water, they’re pretty much impossible to get out, and they can accumulate in the tissues of fish and wildlife,” said Kevin Fraley, a fisheries ecologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society and lead author of the study. “In Alaska, we eat so many wild foods that it’s a pretty big deal to see how much of it is out there.”

The study analyzed muscle tissue from fish species of importance to subsistence fishing. They were collected during separate long-term research projects by the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Wildlife Conservation Society. The samples, gathered near Kotzebue and Prudhoe Bay, were tested for 24 PFAS compounds as well as total mercury levels.

Alaska doesn’t have health guidelines for PFAS  contamination in fish. Other states have advised various actions at contamination levels starting from 9 to 47 micrograms per kilogram. All the fish species tested from the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea samples were far below those levels.

Dolly Varden in both locations were almost free of the chemicals, with just trace amounts of a single contaminant found in a Beaufort sample. The highest levels detected were in Beaufort Sea broad whitefish, which had 2.8 mcg/kg of a type of PFAS. Other tested species included Arctic flounder, saffron cod, inconnu (also known as sheefish), humpback whitefish and least cisco.

Those levels are a significant contrast to some Arctic sites in Canada and Europe, where fish samples have had PFAS levels of more than 30 micrograms per kilogram at some locations.

Check out the full study here.