The numbers are small and the potential risk is believed to be minimal, but the so-called “forever chemicals” known as PFAS have been detected at low-levels in Nantucket wildlife, including deer and scallops.
The results come from a recent study conducted by the Nantucket PFAS Action Group, Dr. Tim Lepore, and the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) group. The study took samples from three deer taken on the island, a deer liver, and three Nantucket bay scallops. The samples were tested for 36 different PFAS, and the results showed levels between 210 and 240 parts per trillion (ppt).
Compared to PFAS levels discovered in other wildlife – for example Great Lakes fish, Chinese scallops and deer taken near a former Air Force base in Michigan – the levels are low. But, the PFAS Action Group stated, “they are still of concern because they show PFAS have entered our wildlife on Nantucket.”
The group’s study was also assisted by Dr. Courtney Carignan, an exposure scientist and environmental epidimeiologist from Michigan State University, who provided technical support and data interpretation.
“Estimated exposures to PFAS from the Nantucket shellfish and deer fall well below the tolerable weekly intake recommended by the European Food SAfety Authority,” Carignan wrote.
PFAS have already been discovered in water wells around Nantucket Memorial Airport and in Nantucket Fire Department’s turnout gear. The presence of PFAS in drinking water is an emerging concern nationwide and in some places, like Michigan, elevated levels in deer have prompted officials to issue “do not eat” advisories for deer taken near certain areas with known contamination. Used to manufacture stain- and water-resistant products, PFAS are suspected to increase the risk of kidney and testicular cancers, as well as other health conditions.