Contaminated seafood: Why certain foods should be avoided to protect your health

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high-seafood-diets(NaturalHealth365)  While seafood is well-known for its various health benefits, such as its rich omega-3 fatty acids and essential nutrients, there are risks associated with its consumption that may not be widely recognized.  Recent research published in Exposure and Health reveals a significant concern: underestimating exposure to PFAS through some seafood items more than others.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are synthetic chemicals found in various consumer products – and apparently in certain seafood products.  This discovery highlights the need for further investigation and awareness regarding the potential health risks associated with eating shrimp and lobster, in particular.

Researchers’ startling discovery of PFAS in seafood

The study aimed to assess seafood consumption patterns among New Hampshire residents and the associated PFAS exposure.  The researchers conducted a population-based survey involving 1,829 adults and children aged 2-11 in June 2021.  The survey collected data on seafood consumption frequency, portion sizes, types, and sources.

After determining the most commonly consumed seafood species, the researchers purchased these species from a seafood market in Portsmouth, NH.  They then analyzed the purchased seafood for 26 different PFAS compounds to quantify their presence.

The researchers calculated hazard quotients for PFAS compounds with available health guidance values to assess the potential health risk posed by seafood consumption.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Among adults, 95% reported consuming seafood within the last year, with shrimp, haddock, salmon, and canned tuna being the most frequently consumed types.
  • Based on consumption frequencies and meal sizes, the researchers estimated daily seafood consumption rates for adults (median: 33.9 g/day) and children (median: 5.0 g/day), which were somewhat higher than national estimates for the Northeastern U.S.
  • PFAS were detected in shrimp and lobster purchased from the local market, with median concentrations ranging from below the detection limit to 1.74 ng/g for shrimp and 3.30 ng/g for lobster.
  • Hazard quotients suggested that high seafood consumers may be exposed to PFAS concentrations that potentially pose a health risk.

Is your favorite seafood safe from PFAS contamination?

The plight of shellfish living along the seafloor is tragic as they become the unwitting carriers of higher PFAS levels.  These contaminants are then ingested by larger fish like salmon and tuna, endangering our favorite seafood choices.

The presence of PFAS in our seafood not only raises alarm about its safety but also serves as a stark reminder of the broader issue of environmental contamination.  It’s a call to action for stronger regulations to shield our food supply from harmful chemicals, urging us to advocate for sustainable fishing practices and rigorous monitoring of seafood safety standards to safeguard public health.

Protect your health by minimizing PFAS exposure

In the battle to minimize exposure to PFAS, it’s crucial to recognize that while it may be impossible to completely eliminate these chemicals from seafood and consumer products, there’s hope for change.  Public health guidelines need to be revamped to reduce PFAS exposure, especially in coastal areas like New England, where industries have contaminated countless fish with these “forever chemicals.”

While avoiding seafood altogether is not a practical option for many people, limiting your consumption to only 4 ounces / serving (2-3 times per week) would be a reasonable choice.  And, of course, try to avoid the “scavenger” seafood items like shrimp and lobster.

In addition, you can take steps to minimize PFAS exposure by avoiding freshwater fish, especially those caught in or near urban areas where PFAS are prevalent.  Additionally, opt for alternatives to nonstick cookware, as they often contain PFAS.  Transitioning to ceramic pots and pans can significantly reduce PFAS exposure while still allowing for efficient cooking.

While it may not be practical to create your own backyard pond stocked with untainted fish, you have the power to make informed choices that protect your health and the environment.

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