The state Department of Environmental Protection has issued its first consumption advisories for 12 species of fish sampled from 14 bodies of water in six counties, which found to contain high levels of PFAS chemicals. New Jersey is one of the first states in the nation to expand the fish consumption advisories to these class of chemicals.

DEP spokesman Larry Hajna says PFAS chemicals are very durable chemicals that make them very attractive in the past. They were once used in non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing and firefighting foams.

Even though these chemicals have been phased out, they do remain in the environment, says Hajna. These can present a number of health concerns affecting the reproductive organs and immune system. In some cases, they have been linked to certain cancers in laboratory animals.

He says New Jersey has been taking a proactive stance in terms of setting drinking water standards because they are finding PFAS chemicals in the drinking water. The next study is on the environment and Hajna says they have found the chemicals are being taken in by the fish in certain water bodies.

Some bodies of water being tested include the Passaic River, Metedeconk River, the area in the Pinelands around the Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst. "We also looked in areas in Gloucester and Salem counties, along the Woodbury Creek and Cohansey Creek in Cumberland County."

Hajna adds that fish consumption advisories have been in place for decades for other contaminants including mercury, PCBs and pesticides. But he says these levels are declining but now there are other chemicals in existence.

Hajna says recreational fishermen and anglers need to stay educated by going to the website, fishsmarteatsmartnj.org.

"On that website, people can find a comprehensive list of all the water bodies and the advisories that are in place for fish species," says Hajna.

The most common species of fish affected by PFAS chemicals include large mouthed bass, blue gill sunfish, pickerel, bullhead, carp, perch and catfish.

Among the PFAS chemicals, PFOS is the one that has generated the most concern in fish because of its prevalence in the environment, according to the DEP.

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