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Issues Of The Environment: Water Is Not Only Source Of PFAS, Many Foods Also Harbor Chemicals

University of Michigan
University of Michigan School of Public Health

The appearance of the chemicals known as PFAs in local waterways has become a serious problem.  Yet, a recent study determined that certain foods contain such contaminants, as well.  In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair discusses the research with Dr. John Meeker, professor of environmental health sciences at the U-M's School of Public Health.


  • In June 2019, the Associated Press reported that the Food and Drug Administration conducted “market basket testing” on food from grocery stores, testing for 20 types of PFAS.
  • The FDA has not released the results of this study, however the AP reports that a slide from a FDA presentation in May 2019 shows, “PFOS, an older form of PFAS no longer made in the U.S., turned up at levels ranging from 134 parts per trillion to 865 parts per trillion in tilapia, chicken, turkey, beef, cod, salmon, shrimp, lamb, catfish and hot dogs.  Prepared chocolate cake tested at 17,640 parts per trillion of a kind of PFAS called PFPeA.”
  • These results are alarming, since the Environmental Protection Agency suggests a 70-ppt as a nonbinding lifetime health advisory for drinking water.  While the drinking water in our region is currently below this level, it is likely that the foods we consume are not.
  • Dr. John Meeker is Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and an expert in the science of exposure, epidemiology, and risk.  

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at

Nearly three-quarters of David Fair’s 20+ years in radio has been at WEMU. Since 1994, he has been on the air at 5am each weekday on 89.1 FM as the local host of NPR’s Morning Edition. Over the years, Fair has had the opportunity to interview nationally and internationally known politicians, activists and celebrities. But he feels the most important features and interviews have been with those who live and work here at home. He believes his professional passions and desires fit perfectly into WEMU’s commitment to serving a local audience.
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