Toxic ‘eternal chemicals’ found in Tampa Bay oysters, study finds

Courtesy of Florida International University

With a new state law addressing the cleanup of chemical compounds that have been widely used by industries, a According to a study by Florida International University the substances have been found in oysters from Biscayne Bay, the Marco Island area and Tampa Bay.

The problem involves compounds known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known to many as “eternal chemicals”, which have been used in a wide range of consumer products and things such as fire-fighting foams.

The chemicals don’t break down in the environment and can build up in fish and wildlife, according to a State House analysis.

The Florida International University Environmental Institute study says the compounds and another contaminant known as phthalate esters were detected in each of 156 oysters sampled in Biscayne Bay, Marco Island and Tampa Bay.

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In a press release Wednesday, the university said the contaminants can pose human health risks and the highest levels were found in Biscayne Bay oysters.

“I wanted to examine what we eat and whether it could contaminate us,” Leila Lemos, the study’s lead author, said in a prepared statement. “These findings are definitely a red flag, especially for areas like Biscayne Bay.”

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During this year’s legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill (HB 1475) this includes requiring the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to adopt statewide cleanup target levels for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances in drinking water, groundwater, and soil if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not finalize the standards by January 1, 2025.

Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law last month.

Denise W. Whigham