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Environmentby Fern Shen2:31 pmOct 16, 20210

Maryland issues its first fish consumption advisory based on PFAS levels

Findings of the toxic chemical compound in a Prince George’s County creek prompted the warning. MDE is awaiting results after sampling in other areas, including Baltimore.

Above: The Maryland Department of the Environment found elevated PFAS concentrations in largemouth bass in Piscataway Creek. (marylandbiodiversity.com)

The Maryland Department of the Environment has issued the state’s first ever fish consumption advisory based on the finding of elevated levels of a PFAS chemical.

PFAS, which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, is a class of chemicals found in hundreds of consumer products, including stain- and water-resistant furniture, outdoor gear, cosmetics, dental floss and disposable food packaging.

Exposure to high levels of PFAS chemicals may increase the risk of developmental health effects during pregnancy or to breastfed infants, as well as the risk of cancer, immune system damage or damage to the liver, thyroid or other organ systems, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said.

These concerns, and the discovery of PFAS in soil and ground and surface water, has led several states to begin issuing fish consumption advisories in recent years.

MDE yesterday issued guidelines for eating three species of fish caught in Piscataway Creek in Prince George’s County after sampling fish there and completing a scientific review of health risks posed by levels of a PFAS chemical known as PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate).

October 2021 Piscataway Creek fish consumption advisory issued by Maryland Department of the Environment.

October 2021 Piscataway Creek fish consumption advisory issued by Maryland Department of the Environment.

Baltimore and Elsewhere

Maryland, which already monitors fish tissue and state waterways for PCBs, mercury and other chemicals, has been publishing guidelines for safe fish consumption for years.

The agency began sampling for PFAS in fall 2020, adding two new fish sample locations in Piscataway Creek.

PFAS sampling on the Eastern Shore, which includes stations in the Chester, Choptank, Corsica, Elk and Wicomico rivers and Isle of Wight Bay and Chesapeake Bay, showed no levels of concern.

MDE is awaiting results of PFAS sampling from three Patapsco River locations.

Monitoring for PFAS is also underway in the Baltimore Harbor area.

Samples taken in September are being reviewed from three Patapsco River stations: Bear Creek at the mouth of the Patapsco, Old Road Bay near Ft. Howard, and Patapsco River at Ft. Armistead.

“The samples have been sent to the lab and we are awaiting results,” deputy director of communications Jay Apperson told The Brew.

MDE is also expanding sample collection in the larger Potomac area.

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