Fishy forever chemicals Increase the risk of disease

| 30 May 2023
minute reading time

Eating just one serving of freshwater fish each year, such as salmon, is equivalent to drinking water polluted with ‘forever chemicals’ for an entire month, according to research from the US. The ‘forever chemicals’ in question are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a family of chemicals used in a wide range of products, firefighting foams, waste and industrial processes, and which have contaminated water and soil.

These pollutants don’t break down in the environment and ingesting them from contaminated food and water leads to their accumulation in the body, which can lead to illnesses, including cancer. PFAS contamination affects freshwater fish, and marine fish in some locations, on a global scale.


Barbo N, Stoiber T, Naidenko OV et al. 2023. Locally caught freshwater fish across the United States are likely a significant source of exposure to PFOS and other perfluorinated compounds. Environmental Research. 220, 115165.

About the author
Dr. Justine Butler
Justine joined Viva! in 2005 after graduating from Bristol University with a PhD in molecular biology. After working as a campaigner, then researcher and writer, she is now Viva!’s head of research and her work focuses on animals, the environment and health. Justine’s scientific training helps her research and write both in-depth scientific reports, such as White Lies and the Meat Report, as well as easy-to-read factsheets and myth-busting articles for consumer magazines and updates on the latest research. Justine also recently wrote the Vegan for the Planet guide for Viva!’s Vegan Now campaign.

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