The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has issued new fish consumption advisories to provide guidance for people who catch and consume freshwater fish from 13 waterbodies at state parks operated by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). Recent testing of fish from these locations found levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) above DPH-recommended levels for regular consumption.
The Ashland Reservoir is on the list. Per the advisory, children under 12, pregnant women, nursing mothers, women of child-bearing age are advised to consume no fish from that lake. For the general public, DPH advises limiting consumption to one meal per month.
DPH also sampled surface water at these locations, and PFAS was not found at levels that would be unsafe for swimming or any other recreational activities at these locations.
PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals manufactured and used in a variety of consumer products and industries worldwide. Based on studies of laboratory animals and people, exposure to certain PFAS has been associated with changes in liver and kidney function, changes in thyroid hormone and cholesterol levels, and immune system effects. In addition, PFAS exposure has been shown to cause developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy. Some studies also suggest an increased risk of developing cancer following long-term exposures to elevated levels of some PFAS.
DPH prioritized the testing of fish and surface water at the waterbodies because they are popular locations for swimming and fishing. They are also located in communities in or near Environmental Justice Populations, where the existing burden of disease and exposure to sources of pollution are greatest.
For more information about the fish consumption advisories and PFAS from DPH, please visit: PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) in Recreationally Caught Fish.