Poison poisson? Study finds high-levels of PFAS in seafood


PFAs; chemicals; seafood; fish; forever chemicals

By: Rory Hanrahan, James M. Mathew, and Joshua G. Ferguson

Coming off the heels of a new EPA regulation limiting their concentrations in public water systems, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, more commonly known as “PFAS” or “forever chemicals,” continue to make headlines as researchers have recently found that a high seafood diet may increase the risk of exposure to these substances. Because of these findings, a new study by Dartmouth College recommends stricter public health guidelines regarding the amount of seafood that can be safely consumed. PFAS are manmade chemicals that have been alleged to be linked to cancer, fetal abnormalities, and high cholesterol, among other diseases and disorders. Moreover, these chemicals are commonly found in various cleaning products, nonstick cookware, water-resistant materials, and fire-fighting foam.  

The Dartmouth College study involved research into the seafood diets of 1,829 New Hampshire residents. Furthermore, samples of saltwater fish, including cod, haddock, lobster, salmon, scallops, shrimp, and tuna freshly purchased from a coastal New Hampshire market, were tested for 26-PFAS-type chemicals. Shellfish, such as lobster and shrimp, were found to have the highest levels of PFAS, averaging up to 3.3 nanograms per gram, whereas samples from other species averaged less than 1 nanogram of PFAS per gram.  

Despite these findings, the study does not recommend avoiding seafood entirely due it being a source of lean protein and omega fatty acids, but rather aims to bring a greater awareness as to how humans may be at a higher risk of PFAS exposure due to certain diets and help people make more informed decisions.  

Researchers pursued this study because most existing research focuses on freshwater fish, demonstrating the expansion and inevitability of future PFAS research. Dartmouth’s findings on PFAS levels in seafood could lead to future regulations regarding seafood distribution and litigation for personal injury and product liability claims stemming from alleged PFAS exposure.  

FMG currently defends clients in complex litigation in claims coming from alleged PFAS exposure. As professionals in the field, we stay informed and updated on all things PFAS and their effect on our health. For more information, please contact Rory Hanrahan at, James Mathew at, Joshua Ferguson at, or your local FMG attorney.