A new study has revealed that eating just a single portion of fish locally caught in a US lake or river could expose the eater to high amounts of dangerous “forever chemicals”, so-called because they accrue in the environment, food chain and our bodies and are very difficult, if not impossible, ever to get rid of.
Once again, we learn that the pollution of our precious food supply, and the broader environment, is even worse than we had thought. Once again, too, we find ourselves asking: Why isn’t this bigger news? Why isn’t something being done about this? I’ll tell you why I think that is, in a moment.
Researchers from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that freshwater fish including catfish, trout and salmon contained levels of chemicals like perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that would pose a risk of harm to humans if consumed. Eating just a single portion of some freshwater fish would be the equivalent of consuming forty days’ worth of drinking water contaminated with harmful levels of PFAS.
PFAS are a wide class of chemicals that have a number of applications. Although some of these chemicals are banned, those that aren’t are used extensively in non-stick cookware, food packaging, stain-repellents and fire-retardants. The chemicals have only been in use since the 1940s.
There are already massive amounts of data linking PFAS chemicals to a whole host of negative effects, in humans and in other animals. PFAS are known endocrine-disruptors, interfering with the body’s proper hormonal balance, with terrible consequences for both sexes. They are linked to depressed immunity and certain forms of cancer.
PFAS are also known to be obesogens, meaning they encourage weight gain. They do this by reducing the body’s metabolic demand for calories, so that you can put on weight without actually eating more.
PFAS levels in freshwater fish, according to the new study, are as much as 280 times higher than levels in commercially caught fish. Eating just one freshwater fish caught in a lake or rivercould provide the equivalent dose of PFAS from a year’s daily consumption of fish bought from the store.
Samples of freshwater fish were taken from around the US, and there was regional variation in the levels of PFAS detected, with the highest levels being in fish from the Great Lakes region. This should not be a surprise. Massive agricultural and industrial pollution, as well as the growth of invasive species like zebra mussels, have threatened the vital ecosystems of the Great Lakes for decades. Many of the Great Lakes have been designated “Areas of Concern” by the EPA, and in February last year, while in Ohio, President Biden announced that $1 billion would be pledged to “allow the most significant restoration of the Great Lakes in [their] history.”
The researchers from the EWG were stunned by their findings. “People who consume freshwater fish, especially those who catch and eat fish regularly, are at risk of alarming levels of PFAS in their bodies,” said study lead author Dr David Andrews.
“Growing up, I went fishing every week and ate those fish. But now when I see fish, all I think about is PFAS contamination.”
Within the academic community, concern about PFAS exposure has been growing for some time, with a recent symposium calling for urgent investigation into its long-term effects, since these chemicals would persist in the environment and the food chain for a long time to come even if they were all banned tomorrow. Popular attention has also been focused on the hormonal and reproductive effects of PFAS by the recent Tucker Carlson documentary The End of Men, about America’s crisis of masculinity and declining male fertility.
Despite the widespread attention the Tucker documentary has brought the issue, it seems environmental contamination by these chemicals and others will not become a popular, non-partisan, cause any time soon, certainly if the mainstream media has anything to do with it.
Because climate change is everywhere, it is effectively nowhere. It exceeds our capacity to conceptualise, and we must almost entirely surrender our response to international and supra-national institutions.
In response to the documentary, all the regime’s talking heads could do was laugh, with everyone from John Oliver and Joy Beharto George Takei pointing their fingers at Tucker and shouting “gay!” in unison. “Gay! Gay! Gay!”
One reason for this asinine response, as I suggested in a piece for American Mind, is because the liberal mainstream simply doesn’t care about the plight of young men, especially not young white men. Young men represent an existential threat to our passive consumerist astroturfed social order if – and this is a big “if” – they can ever get their act together.
But this isn’t just an issue that affects young men – as the Tucker documentary was careful to state. The poisoning of the food, air and water affects us all, male and female, black and white, young and old, the living and the soon-to-be. We are all being sickened.
Corporations don’t want environmental contamination to become a popular issue either, since they’re a major contributor. The new study estimates that there are around 40,000 agricultural and industrial contributors of PFAS to the environment in the US. When large amounts of corporate money are at stake, things tend to stay the same, no matter the damage being caused: this is the story of any dangerous but lucrative substance you could care to name, whether we’re talking about atrazine or aspartame, glyphosate or GMO high-fructose corn syrup.
A significant part of this problem is our official stance on the licensing of new chemicals for use, which generally proceeds on the basis of a “safe-until-proven-otherwise” approach, rather than the more sensible assumption that new chemicals are harmful until we can be sure they aren’t. This stupidity bordering on hubris of course favours big corporations and their bottom dollar, and even when a chemical or class of chemicals is identified as harmful, this approach works to prevent an effective response by allowing nearly identical chemicals, often with the same effects, to be used instead, since they are assumed to be safe – until proven otherwise. Chemicals introduced as alternatives to the known endocrine-disruptor BPA, for instance, are no safer than BPA and may in fact be worse. And so the circle of harm continues.
Environmentalism itself, in its current form, is also more of a barrier than an aid to decisive action. “Environmentalism” and “climate change” are now effectively synonyms. To say that you are an environmentalist in 2023 is to say not only that you believe in man-made climate change but that you also believe it is the most pressing environmental issue – or indeed any issue – facing us today. Anything else pales by comparison in importance, to be deferred to some later, unspecified, date.
Because climate change is everywhere, it is effectively nowhere. It exceeds our capacity to conceptualise, and we must almost entirely surrender our response to international and supra-national institutions. Although people “do their bit” to help, perhaps by putting their recyclable waste into a special bin before it is sent to Africa and burned or buried, or roasting a squash on a Monday evening instead of eating meat, or standing in a town square with a placard bellowing about the imminent extinction of all life on earth – or some unhappy combination of all three – the actual terrain of the fight against climate change is totally abstracted from ordinary people’s lives.
But the problems of environmental contamination I’ve talked about in this article are not nowhere: they are here or wherever it is that you live. In our lakes, in our rivers, in our soil, in our food and water. Robbed of the agency to see our particular situation for what it is, let alone confront it, we can only watch as these problems grow worse. Yes, we need government – to investigate, legislate and, if need be, punish – but we are the only ones who can provide the necessary view from somewhere, a place that grows more polluted and hostile to real life by the day.
This op-ed features opinion and analysis from Raw Egg Nationalist, the popular health and fitness author recently profiled in the Tucker Carlson Originals documentary, The End of Men. His book, “The Eggs Benedict Option”, is available on his website and from popular book sellers.