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Eating limits of fish from North Carolina river recommended due to forever chemical

Cape Fear River at Raven Rock State Park NC
Keith Weston

North Carolina health officials formally recommended on Thursday limits on eating certain fish caught from portions of the Cape Fear River due to health concerns from a substance within the family of “forever chemicals.”

The state Department of Health and Human Services issued a consumption advisory for species of freshwater fish from the middle and lower Cape Fear River south of Fayetteville to north of Wilmington because of exposure to what’s called perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, or PFOS.

PFOS belongs within a chemical group called PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which do not break down in the environment. Studies have linked longterm PFAS exposures to several health effects for children and adults — including increased risks for certain kinds of cancer — acccording to the department. Other states have issued similar advisories.

The advisory recommends women of child-bearing age and children avoid eating bluegill, flathead catfish, largemouth bass, redear, and striped bass caught from the portions of the river, and that other adults limit consumption to just one meal annually from those species combined.

For American shad, blue catfish, or channel catfish, the consumption recommendation is one meal annually for women of child-bearing age and children and seven meals for other adults.

Thursday’s advisories followed the collection of fish samples in the area for testing. PFOS was used to make products resistant to stains, grease, soil and water. Production of the chemical phased out starting in the early 2000s.

DHHS said the North Carolina advisories are more restrictive than those in many other states because it used a new PFOS reference dose — the amount below which no adverse health effects should occur from a lifetime of exposure — released recently by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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