Read the full article by Adam Wagner (The News & Observer)

“Striped bass caught in the Cape Fear River and tested for ‘forever chemicals’ had levels of a substance known for its use in firefighting foam that were among the highest ever seen in fish, scientists from N.C. State University reported in a study published Friday.

Blood from 58 striped bass caught in the Cape Fear River had more than 40 times the PFAS of blood from striped bass raised at the Pamlico Aquaculture Field Laboratory, the study found. And it showed that fish with higher levels of the chemicals tended to have increased activity in their livers and immune systems…

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has responded to concerns about PFAS exposure from eating fish by setting consumption advisory levels for PFOA, PFOS and PFNA. North Carolina has not set such levels, a state health department spokeswoman said, but is in communication with researchers who are studying the fish.

While there is a longstanding moratorium on striped bass in the Cape Fear River, the new study said it is likely that largemouth bass, catfish and other species also have high PFAS levels. People who eat fish caught in the river could be ingesting those chemicals, said Scott Belcher, the N.C. State toxicologist whose lab performed the study.

‘I don’t object to people making the leap that, yes, it’s in the blood, it’s going to be in the tissues,’ Belcher said, adding that levels in tissue will be lower than those in blood.

The striped bass study was a collaboration between the N.C. Center for Human Health and the Environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. It was published Friday in Environment International.


Last year, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services mailed surveys to every household within 10 miles of Chemours’ Fayetteville Works plant. Of the 1,858 responses, about 310 people said they had stopped fishing altogether since learning about GenX and other PFAS. Roughly the same number of people had given up gardening.

‘These results indicate a need to better understand whether GenX or other PFAS are found in local produce or fish, and if so at what levels,’ a DHHS press release about the survey stated.

In New Jersey, the state Department of Environmental Protection tested tissue samples from various fish species for three kinds of PFAS: PFOA, PFOS and PFNA. It established consumption advisories that are issued if fish are found to have elevated PFAS levels.

The department issues an advisory, for example, if PFOS is detected in tissue at levels above 17 ppb. At that level, the general public is told to eat the fish no more than once every three months. High-risk individuals such as children, pregnant women and nursing mothers are told to avoid the fish entirely. At 51 ppb, New Jersey residents are told to eat one of the fish annually.

North Carolina has not issued any such advisories or set PFAS levels for the fish found in its rivers and streams.

In a prepared statement, Kelly Haight Connor, a DHHS spokeswoman, wrote, ‘There are currently no fish consumption advisories for PFAS in the Cape Fear, although this may change as new data emerge. DHHS is aware of ongoing studies at (N.C. State) and remains in communication with the researchers to better inform fish consumption advisories throughout North Carolina’…”