Forever chemicals creating risks for eating fresh water fish

Minnesota Department of Health has resources to indicate which Minnesota lakes have fish that are safe to eat.

It is not recommended to eat fish caught some lakes nearby the Twin Cities.

MINNESOTA — A study published last week in the Journal "Environmental Research" claims eating one locally caught, freshwater fish is the same as drinking contaminated water for a month.

This is because of forever chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, which have been used since the 1940s in many commercial products.

This frequent use has sent them into lakes and rivers, and subsequently into fish.

According to Catherine Neuschler, manager of the Water Assessment section of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the risks associated with prolonged, repeated exposure to forever chemicals in any form are severe.

"Maybe decreased response to vaccination, reproductive effects, um, thyroid and liver effects," Neuschler said.


But few lakes in Minnesota have levels of PFAS that would create the kind of risks outlined in the recent study.

According to Angela Preimesberger, a scientist with the Minnesota Department of Health's Fish Consumption Guidance Program, the study needs more clarity.

"The paper wasn't as clear about where and when eating fish — especially freshwater fish — could be bad for your health," Preimesberger said.

The Minnesota Department of Health does have fish consumption guidelines. It currently lists six lakes where absolutely no fish caught should be eaten due to forever chemicals.

  • Eagle Point Lake
  • Lake Elmo
  • Horseshoe Lake
  • Rest Area Pond
  • Tartan Pond
  • West Lakeland Pond

All lakes on the list are located in Washington County, just east of the Twin Cities.
Neuschler says this is due to factories that operated in that area.

"There are certain places where there are higher concentrations, particularly because PFAS were being manufactured there," Neuschler said.

For those concerned about their favorite fishing holes, the Department of Health's fish consumption guide also includes parameters for what is and isn't edible for many lakes in the state .

"You can look more specifically (at) your favorite lake or stream where you like to fish and see if potentially there may be more contamination there," Preimesberger said.

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