Frequently Asked Questions About PFAS in Fish

Is it safe to eat freshwater fish?  

While studies are ongoing to answer this question, a new study suggests that eating commercially caught finfish and seafood, such as cod and tuna, have lower concentrations of PFAS when compared to freshwater fish. A study by the Environmental Working Group found that consumption of just a single serving of freshwater fish could be equal to a month of drinking water laced with the PFOS at high levels that may be harmful. 

Why are the PFAS levels higher at Kent Lake and Ford Lake on the Huron River than at other locations? 

Because this study’s sample size was small and we didn’t investigate sources, there is no definitive answer. Results are from 1-2 individual fish tested. However, we can assume that results were high at Kent Lake because Tribar Manufacturing in Wixom, MI emitted PFAS chemicals only a few miles upstream from Kent Lake. PFAS chemicals in Kent Lake have decreased since 2018, but even years later PFAS are still present in the water. 

Should I avoid certain fish species from these rivers? 

Though it varied by location this study found higher levels of PFAS in bluegill, smallmouth bass, walleye and perch. A ‘Do Not Eat’ fish advisory still exists on the Huron River from Wixom Road to I-275 Highway due to high levels of PFOS  (one type of PFAS). A ‘Do Not Eat’ fish advisory exists for bluegill and sunfish caught in the Lower Branch and the Main Branch of the Rouge River from the Ford Estate Dam to the Detroit River. 

The most up-to-date guidance on which fish are safe to eat can be found in Michigan’s Eat Safe Fish Guide. 

If you eat fish on a regular basis check out Michigan’s Eat Safe Fish; Choose, Clean and Cook Brochure to find out ways to reduce your exposure to PFAS and other chemicals like mercury. 

What’s being done about PFAS in fish on these rivers? 

Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy monitors and tests fish for PFAS on the Huron and Rouge Rivers. When PFOS (one type of PFAS) is detected above 300 ppb a ‘Do Not Eat’ fish consumption advisory is issued. On the Huron River the state of Michigan is working with Tribar Manufacturing to require corrective actions to minimize the potential for any additional chemical discharge. Michigan’s PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) continues to identify new PFAS contaminated sites and requires clean-up if PFAS levels exceed the state’s drinking water standards. 

Though efforts are underway, much more needs to be done to protect Southeast Michigan fish from PFAS. Importantly, Michigan lawmakers can prevent future PFAS contamination by prohibiting the sale of all PFAS-containing products except when no safer alternative exists. 

To help protect fish from PFAS