Eel lovers on Long Island are being warned to avoid eating any locally-caught due to the possibility of contamination from potential carcinogens commonly found in firefighting foam and nonstick coatings, said the Suffolk County Health Department.
The department said it is advising individuals who consume American eel taken from south-shore tidal areas between the Carmans River near Yaphank, and Quantuck Creek near Quogue, of recent preliminary findings for elevated levels of had much higher levels of the chemicals called per-and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS).
"The preliminary results for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS, the most common type of PFAS found in fish) suggest that people may want to consider limiting their consumption of eels or avoiding consumption altogether from this area," the department said.
The average concentration of PFOS in the eels tested at 42 micrograms per kilogram in the Forge River, 43 in the Carmans River and 79 in Quantuck Creek. By comparison, concentrations in blue crabs averaged from 0.9 to 3.1 micrograms per kilogram, the department said.
The average amount found with freshwater fish ranged from 6.1 to 29.4 micrograms per kilogram.
The higher level is the reason for the call to restrict the amount eaten, health officials said, especially for young children and women of childbearing age.
On average, the state recommends four meals per month for men over 15 and women over 50, and up to one meal per month for children younger than 15, based on polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs.
"However, the recent findings suggest that people may want to consider more restrictive consumption of eels from this area," the department added.
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