Maryland issues advisory on eating certain fish from local waterways

The Maryland Department of the Environment has issued an advisory about eating certain types of fish from local waterways over concerns about “forever chemicals.”

The new advisory covers largemouth and smallmouth bass, sunfish, bluegill and white perch, according to the department.

Officials say people do not need to avoid consuming these fish entirely, but should eat them in moderation.

Recent testing examined the levels of PFAS, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances also known as forever chemicals, in fish found in Maryland waterways.

“PFAS refers to a group of more than 4,000 human-made chemicals that have been used since the 1940s in a range of products, including stain- and water-resistant fabrics and carpeting, cleaning products, paints, cookware, food packaging and fire-fighting foams,” according to a news release.

The testing did not prompt a warning to stop eating the fish completely, but officials cautioned that eating large amounts could increase the risk of illness. Women of childbearing age and children are more at risk, according to the advisory.

The advisory said that if a person were to eat more than the recommended amount of fish in the warning every month for 30 years, then they have an “increased risk of 1 in 10,000 of having a health outcome due to that level of consumption,” according to the release.

“Fish is an important part of a healthy diet, but it is important to share what we’ve learned to help people — including subsistence anglers in underserved communities — make informed decisions about what they and their families eat,” Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Serena McIlwain said. “Maryland is committed to informing the public, following the science, and providing data as part of our comprehensive response to PFAS as an emerging national concern.”

No limits need to be applied to eating blue crabs or oysters from local waterways, the department said.

See the full list of the warnings for the fish and where they are found on the Maryland Department of the Environment’s website.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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