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Study analyzes how PFAS exposure impacts crayfish and bluegill

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A group of scientists have found long-term exposure to toxic PFAS chemicals negatively impacts bluegill, crayfish and the ecosystems where they live.

They discovered the fish were exposed to PFAS through the plants it eats. Researchers concluded they were surprised by how much the chemicals impact the fish’s physiology.

Paul Moore is a co-author of the study and biologist at Bowling Green State University. Moored said science has a poor understanding of how PFAS chemicals move through food chains and biological tissues.

"What we found is it really impacts the ability of the bluegill to swim. So this is an important feature for fish because if you can't swim, you can't forge, you can't escape from predators, you can't mate," said Moore. PFAS influences the ability of the crayfish to find and eat plant material. So what this does is if they can't find any of this material, the plants, macrophytes, are going to overgrow.

The study determined the length of a carbon chain within PFAS plays a key role in determining negative outcomes in bluegill.

Moore mentioned that crayfish are the lawnmowers of the lakes and riverbeds and if they can’t function properly, plant overgrowth can be detrimental to an ecosystem. The study was conducted in Emmet, Charlevoix, and Iosco counties

Rick joined WCMU as a general assignment reporter in March 2022.