Maryland now has a tool that moves us a bit closer to identifying harmful chemicals in the Potomac and its tributaries. Brent Walls, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper, has become an expert on the growing issue of PFAS – toxic “forever” chemicals – which are appearing in more and more places including our Potomac River.
He has created a map which identifies monitoring locations where Maryland’s Department of the Environment (MDE) collected fish tissue samples from various species, oyster sampling and blue crab sampling and water samples. This map characterizes the magnitude of the PFAS levels in the water samples and also shows the locations of all fish consumption advisories for PFAS highlighted. The data used to create the map was collected by the MD Department of the Environment.
Maryland is one of 17 states that has issued fish consumption advisories, so this is a first step in understanding the PFAS exposure to communities in Maryland. However, the rate of consumption of contaminated fish continues to be high. EPA is still in the process of developing risk analysis to set consumption advisories for PFAS. Watchdog groups like the Potomac Riverkeepers Network (PRKN) and all who enjoy clean water should continue to advocate for more protective standards. We should recognize the need for a better notification system of advisories that include the fishing populations. Stay aware CWA members…these small steps get us closer to a clean river and better fishing.