“Forever chemicals” are being found in greater concentrations than ever before.
PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are being discovered in larger concentrations in deer in several states. These chemicals have received greater attention lately for their detrimental effect on human health.
Used in various household, commercial, and industrial products because of their stain-resistant and water-repellent qualities, they are known as “forever chemicals” because of the extremely slow rate at which they break down. PFAS have been found in disconcerting levels in the blood of humans and animals (as well as drinking water) throughout the world.
The increased levels of PFAS in deer have recently prompted several states including Michigan and Maine, to institute “do not eat” health advisories for game meat consumption.
Michigan was the first to assess PFAS in deer and have issued several advisories against eating deer. Wisconsin has passed advisories against eating deer liver in certain areas of the state (PFAS can accumulate in the liver over time because the organ filters the chemicals from the blood). The discovery of the high levels of PFAS has officials worried about the effect on tourism according to David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine: “If people are unwilling to hunt and fish, how are we going to manage those species?” he said. “You’re getting it in your water, you’re getting it in your food, you’re getting it in wild game.”
High levels of PFAS are being discovered in wildlife everywhere.
Uses for PFAS include nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics and carpets, some cosmetics, some firefighting foams, and products that resist grease, water, and oil. The proliferation of “forever chemicals” in products we use every day means we have an uphill battle if we want to ensure the health of our wildlife and, ultimately, of humanity as a whole.