“Last week, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection released draft fish consumption limits based on the chemicals in about a dozen recreational water bodies throughout the state. The recommendations are part of a growing effort by New Jersey to prevent human exposure to perfluorinated compounds, which are unregulated chemicals popping up in the water supplies of millions of Americans.

New Jersey is just the fifth state to put forth draft or finalized fish consumption limits for the chemicals, joining Alabama, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin…

Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania are dealing with significant contamination with perfluorinated compounds, also known as PFAS. The chemicals have historically been found in variety of products, including nonstick cookware, waterproof fabrics, food packaging, and firefighting foams used by the military and the aviation industry. They have been linked to illnesses including cancer, ulcerative colitis and reproductive issues.

In 2016, this news organization reported on widespread use of firefighting foams at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, noting that a preliminary report performed by a military contractor in 2015 had identified numerous waterways leaving the base that could contain the chemicals. The report specifically stated that people living near the joint base could potentially be exposed to the chemicals when they swim or eat fish caught in water bodies fed by runoff from 34 suspected sites of contamination on the base.

However, the military’s investigation has not led to sampling of many off-base waterways. In May 2017, a base spokesperson said there were no plans to test the Rancocas Creek for the chemicals, even though a stream flowing into the river from the base contained the chemicals at 1,127 parts per trillion (ppt), 16 times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s 70 ppt limit for the chemicals in drinking water.

For its report last week, the New Jersey DEP did what the military has not, sampling several water bodies near the joint base. After doing so, the DEP found that the chemical levels are higher in water and fish in nearby lakes than anywhere else in the state.

In Mirror Lake, a popular recreational lake in Pemberton Township, PFAS were found at 180.9 ppt in water, the second highest in the state. The chemicals were also found in high levels in fish, resulting in proposed consumption limits on eels, bluegill sunfish and largemouth bass to one meal every three months.

Levels were even higher in Little Pine Lake, a smaller water body to the north of Mirror Lake in Pemberton Township. That lake receives water from Jack’s Run, a stream running from the base that was previously identified as potentially contaminated in the 2015 report. Water samples there showed 279.5 ppt of the chemicals, the highest in the state. That resulted in recommended limits of eating only one meal of largemouth bass or yellow perch in an entire year. Consumption of pumpkinseed sunfish is also limited to once every three months.

In Ocean County, Pike Lake and Horicon Lake were sampled due to their receiving runoff from the joint base. From Pike Lake, consumption of eels, largemouth bass, and pumpkinseed sunfish is limited to once a year. In Horicon Lake, consumption of yellow bullheads is limited to once weekly and chain pickerel to once monthly…

The report notes that the advisories are only for the general population. Stricter advisories for ‘high risk’ populations, such as children and pregnant woman, are expected in future versions, the report stated. Based on figures provided however, the recommendation for high risk populations would be not to eat any of the identified fish from Mirror or Little Pine lakes…

The fish advisories also have implications in Pennsylvania, where emails obtained by this news organization show state officials discussing potential hazards from fish consumption in 2016. To date, neither the state nor military officials for area bases have offered any public plan or advisories addressing fish consumption.

That’s despite testing showing high levels of PFAS chemicals in area waterways, including Park Creek in Horsham and Warrington and the Little Neshaminy Creek. In 2016, testing by the military showed as much as 1,730 ppt of the chemicals in Park Creek near the Horsham Air Guard Station, and 210 ppt in the Little Neshaminy in Warrington. Military officials have since taken efforts to curb the amount of chemicals reaching the waterways.”

Read the full article by Kyle Bagenstose