Wildlife agencies in the U.S. are finding elevated levels of a class of toxic chemicals in deer, and that's prompting health advisories in some places where hunting and fishing are ways of life.
Deer in several states, including Michigan and Maine, have high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in them. Sometimes called "forever chemicals" for their persistence in the environment, PFCs are industrial compounds used in many products.
Last year, the EPA launched an effort to limit pollution from the chemicals that are linked to health problems.
Some states have begun to issue "do not eat" advisories for deer and fish due to the discovery of chemicals in the food they eat.
The National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes Regional Center says that the game that people are going out to hunt and fish is a threat to those industries.
Because they don't degrade or do so slowly in the environment, and can stay in a person's bloodstream for life, public health and environmental agencies are more focused on the issue.
Consumer goods and waste are used to make chemicals. In addition, they have been used in agriculture. The fields have been applied to as compost andfertilizer.
In Maine, where the chemicals were found in hundreds of times the federal health advisory level, legislators passed a law that requires manufacturers to phase them out by 2030. Maine's law could be a model for other states to follow.
California's governor signed a bill banning the use of chemicals in cosmetics. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than 20 states have proposed or adopted limits for PFAS.
David Trahan is the executive director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine, a hunting and outdoors advocacy group.
There could be a negative impact on outdoor tourism from the discovery. If people aren't willing to hunt and fish, how are we going to manage them? You get it in your water, you get it in your food, you get it in wild game.
Maine was the first state to detect PFAS. A "do not eat" advisory was issued by the state last year after deer in the area tested positive for elevated levels.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is expanding the testing to more animals. He said that there will be more facilities coming online to help ease the burden.
There is a "do not eat" advisory for deer in Marinette, which is 55 miles north of Green Bay. Fishermen were told to reduce their rainbow smelt consumption to one meal a month.
Wisconsin's natural resources department told hunters that some chemicals can accumulate in the body because the organ filters the chemicals from the blood. An advisory has been issued by the New Hampshire authorities.
Tammy Newcomb, senior executive assistant director for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said that Michigan was the first state to assess peridinal pesticides in deer.
There was an advisory for deer taken in and near Oscoda Township. There is an advisory against eating organs from deer, fish or any other wild game in Michigan. There are areas in the state where it has studied the birds.
The state's expanded testing has helped authorities find out which areas don't have a problem.
People say we can't do anything about it. I like to point out that our results aren't true. It has been the exception when it comes to finding PFAS as a contaminant of concern.
Shellfish that are collected recreationally and commercially have the chemical in them. In August, scientists from the Florida International University Institute of Environment analyzed more than 150 oysters from around the state and found PFAS in all of them. The chemicals are a long-term poison that endangers human health, according to Natalia Soares Quinete, an assistant professor.
Reducing exposure is the best way to avoid negative health effects. Trasande said that it's hard to do because the chemicals are so common.
He said that if you see it in humans, it will affect animals.
Wildlife authorities try to inform hunters of the presence of PFAS in deer with posted signs in hunting areas and advisories on social media and the internet. There is a sign in Michigan that tells hunters that high levels of PFAS may be found in deer.
The discovery of PFAS in states like Maine and Michigan is concerning to hunters.
Adams' family eats a lot of venison and he can't imagine not being able to do that. We've done everything we can to make sure people know about it.
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