PFAS Investigation Program

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a growing list of 5,000+ chemicals found in products like nonstick pans, food packaging, firefighting foam used on military bases and at commercial airports. PFAS are known as a legacy chemical, meaning they don’t easily break down, and can persist in our bodies and in the environment for generations. As a result of their pervasiveness, more than 95 percent of the U.S. population has PFAS in their bodies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Worse, there is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects on your immune system, liver, thyroid, birth defects and could cause cancer. The full extent of the risks and exposure levels from PFAS is still being studied. 

After discovering elevated levels of PFAS chemicals in Antietam Creek, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper, Brent Walls, became concerned that fish caught from our local streams might have elevated levels of these toxic chemicals found in products many of us use every day. These PFAS chemicals could be harmful not only to the aquatic ecosystem, but the families who consume fish caught in our watershed. 

PFAS infographic

To begin to address this pollutant, Brent will be collecting small-range fish species, which provide a food source for aquatic and terrestrial species and for humans as well, and testing them for toxic chemicals. The results of these tests will be used to determine whether PRKN should advocate for fish consumption advisories to inform the public of the risks of eating fish caught in the Upper Potomac watershed. 

For more information on PFAS explore the resources below: