New research sheds light on potential risks associated with eating freshwater fish because of a common chemical used in the manufacturing industry.

Fishing is a popular sport and pastime for many New Yorkers, but experts said a damning report sends a clear message, especially to folks who eat from rivers, lakes and streams.

“I think consumers should think twice before they eat what they catch,” said David Carpenter, a professor of environmental health sciences at the University at Albany.

That’s the takeaway many have from a new study published by the Environmental Working Group. It suggests the consumption of one freshwater fish a year could be equal to a month of drinking water contaminated by per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

“Most people know about them because it’s the main component in Scotchgard," Carpenter said. "It was manufactured by 3M. Also it’s the main component of Teflon.”

He said PFAS are indestructible, which is why they’re referred to as “forever chemicals.” They've also been linked to a range of health issues, including liver damage, reduced immune response and several kinds of cancer.

“I think one can predict anywhere where there was a plant that was manufacturing or using these compounds, there is going to be local contamination of groundwater,” Carpenter said.

According to the Environmental Working Group, more than 500 fish from across the lower 48 states were sampled between 2013 and 2015 to compile the newly released report.

New York state is, of course, no stranger to PFAS contamination. There have been issues with Rensselaer County’s drinking water in Hoosick Falls and Poestenkill, to name a few.

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation is investigating the issue. Since 2017, the DEC and state Health Department have collaborated to collect fish samples from various water bodies across the state with PFAS chemicals being a primary concern.

That data is used to issue any health advisories that may be warranted. The advisories are updated and can be found online.

While there is no specific data for New York, the research highlights various species that populate its waterways.

“The highest levels were in fish like bass, walleye and fish that get large,” Carpenter said.

Tim Blodgett owns a tackle shop in Schuylerville called Saratoga Tackle & Archery.

“I’ve been selling worms since I was a little kid,” Blodgett said.

He said new and returning customers are usually interested in whether they can eat what they catch.

“It’s not a topic that comes up every day, but they ask about the safety of the fish that they catch,” he said.

He said the study is concerning, but confirms the inevitable and hopes that more specific data becomes available.

“I want to know where these fish were sampled from before I make a decision on how my business is going to go, or worry about where the industry is going to go as a whole," Blodgett said.

One thing is certain. Experts say PFAS contamination is hard to reverse.

“We’ve got to consider the harmful effects of these chemicals before we let them get into our food supply and water,” Carpenter said.