Freshwater fish might be dangerous to eat, study suggests


The Wantagh-Seaford area is home to some of Nassau County’s premiere freshwater fishing spots. Unfortunately, a new study claims that eating one serving of fish from these lakes and ponds could be the health equivalent of drinking polluted water for an entire month.

The local spots include Twin Lakes Preserve, Mill Pond, and Forest City Park Pond. Slightly to the east, there is Massapequa Lake. For anglers willing to take a short drive, Hempstead Lake State Park isn’t far either.

Many of these lakes have a naturally reproducing population of fish like largemouth bass, bluegill, pickerel, crappie, eels, and catfish. Additionally, some of them – like Upper Twin Pond – are stocked with trout by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in the spring and fall to add something extra for anglers.

While it is illegal to keep largemouth bass in Nassau County, no such restrictions exist for the other species.

There were already known health risks of eating fish from local lakes. The state Department of Health has an advisory on their website warning of the chemical chlordane in the fish. For all of the aforementioned lakes, children under 15 and women under 50 are advised not to eat any of the fish. For all other age groups, the department recommends a four meal per month limit.

But these already risky-to-eat fish are potentially even more dangerous than these current recommendations.

ScienceDirect published a seven year study claiming that, nationwide, freshwater fish are heavily contaminated with per-and polyfluorinated substances, also known as PFAs and “potentially forever” chemicals.

PFAs are used in jet fuel, firefighting foam, industrial discharge, and certain household products. Due to this use, they have seeped into the water supply and contaminated fish over a period of many years. Across rivers and streams nationwide, the median level of PFAs was 9,500 nanograms per kilogram. It was even higher in the Great Lakes, at 11,800 nanograms per kilogram.

Numerous studies have linked PFAs to cancer in humans.

For Wantagh-Seaford’s freshwater ponds, this study comes on top of the state’s preexisting warnings about hazardous chemicals in fish.

Many catches in the local waters can be viewed on social media sites such as Fishbrain and Facebook. A quick look indicates that most anglers practice catch-and-release, but many posts in the Facebook group “Long Island Bass Anglers” discuss the “bucket brigades” coming to local waters. According to these posts, the bucket brigades are large groups of anglers who show up with buckets and keep everything they catch, with disregard for rules such as the stocked trout limit and the illegality of keeping largemouth bass.