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Love seafood? Beware of ‘forever chemicals’, says study

IANS Apr 13, 2024

While consuming lobsters, shrimp, tuna, and other kinds of seafood may be good to boost your Omega-3 levels, eating them more frequently can increase the risk of exposure to a group of industrial chemicals called per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as "forever chemicals," according to a study.

Experts from Dartmouth College in the UK noted that guidelines for safe seafood consumption exist for mercury and other contaminants, but not for PFAS. The study stresses the need for more stringent public health guidelines that establish the amount of seafood people can safely consume.

"Our recommendation isn't to eat seafood, seafood is a great source of lean protein and omega fatty acids. But it also is a potentially underestimated source of PFAS exposure in humans," said Megan Romano, corresponding author and Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Dartmouth College's Geisel School of Medicine in the UK.

"Understanding this risk-benefit trade-off for seafood consumption is important for people making decisions about diet, especially for vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and children," Romano said.

In the study, the team measured the levels of 26 varieties of PFAS in samples of the most consumed marine species: cod, haddock, lobster, salmon, scallop, shrimp and tuna.

The findings, published in the journal Exposure and Health, showed that shrimp and lobster carry the highest concentrations with averages ranging as high as 1.74 and 3.30 nanograms per gram of flesh, respectively, for certain PFAS compounds.

PFAS, which break down very slowly over time and can persist over thousands of years in the environment, are potentially harmful to people, wildlife, and the environment.

Studies have shown their exposure raises the risk of cancer, foetal abnormalities, high cholesterol, and thyroid, liver, and reproductive disorders

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