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Hell and gore: High levels of PFAS in crayfish yet another sign of an intoxicated world
A plate full of cooked crayfish, topped with dill. Swedish tradition. Crayfish party. Studio photo with colorful background. Selective focus on object.


Hell and gore: High levels of PFAS in crayfish yet another sign of an intoxicated world

Published on 25 Aug 2022

If you were planning on hosting or attending a crayfish party this weekend, you might want to hold off on pouring that schnapps – at least if the crayfish were caught in Swedish lakes. A new test study shows that Swedish crayfish are loaded with PFAS, yet another sign that we have exceeded the limit for how much PFAS the planet can take.

Last week, independent testing and research company Testfakta published a study (article in Swedish) revealing high levels of the chemical group PFAS in Swedish crayfish – much higher than those found in crayfish imported from Turkey, Spain, and Egypt. This has of course put a heavy damper on crayfish parties all over Sweden, traditionally held in August.

Toxic, persistent, and everywhere

The fact that PFAS can be found in crayfish is not all that surprising. The PFAS issue is a hot topic all over the world; new studies are published every week, proving that these chemicals have spread to every corner of the planet and every person on earth. Along with these studies, scientists discover more and more negative effects of PFAS exposure, causing the current safe limit values for drinking water to be in the process of being lowered to somewhere between one twentieth and one fiftieth of today’s levels.

At the beginning of August, researchers at Stockholm University published a study showing that rainwater from remote places such as Tibet and Antarctica contains higher levels of PFAS than what the US Environmental Protection Agency proposes as a new limit value for drinking water.

In light of these facts, it’s clear that we have exceeded the planet’s limits for how much PFAS it can tolerate.

“Rainwater from Tibet and Antarctica contains higher levels of PFAS than what the US EPA proposes as a new limit value for drinking water”

PFAS are also called “forever chemicals”, because they break down so slowly that they basically remain in nature – and in us – “forever”, causing levels to constantly increase, as long as manufacturers continue to produce and use them. The substances have been linked to several diseases and health issues, including cancer, infertility, high cholesterol and impaired immune function.

The wheels are turning – but slowly

There are now ongoing legal cases in both Europe and the US, as well as other parts of the world, where residents exposed to high levels of PFAS are seeking justice. An EU-funded study, testing the blood of Europeans for chemicals, found that European teenagers have high levels of PFAS in their bloodstream.

Various processes to properly regulate PFAS are now finally underway in the EU and elsewhere. But legislation takes time. In the meantime, it is important that we do what we can to remove the forever chemicals from new products. At ChemSec – for example – we gather over 80 companies, including H&M, Levis, and Ralph Lauren, in the PFAS Movement, calling for quick and effective regulation of the entire group of PFAS.

All PFAS sources must be considered

So how should one reason when it comes to crayfish? The proposed limit of five to seven crayfish per week for a person weighing 70 kilograms, in accordance with set PFAS limit values, doesn’t consider any other environmental toxins that we ingest through the crayfish. Nor are all other sources through which we ingest PFAS taken into account: drinking water, food packaging, hygiene products, textiles, and more.

Many of us at ChemSec are opting out of crayfish this year. Those who choose to do the same should direct their frustration over the cancelled crayfish party at legislators and major companies, who have the power to speed up the phase-out of these harmful substances.