Recent Study Reminds Oklahoma Fishermen of Lake Contamination
A recent study pointed out the growing PFAS - AKA - "Forever Chemical" contamination issues plaguing our American fisheries.
If you don't know, PFAS are lab-developed man-made chemicals used in all facets of American life for the last 80 years... Non-stick cookware, water-repellant clothing, stain-free flooring/carpet, etc... have been proven to cause a variety of cancers.
It's familiar in every military town due to the Camp Lejeune class-action lawsuit that has been all over tv/radio/social media in the last year or two. PFAS contamination has been confirmed at a dozen military installations throughout the states, including Fort Hood.
There was even a movie released in 2019 about the effects of these chemicals on living things... humans, livestock, fish, etc... Teflon's parent company has changed names and is still dealing with the fallout of the discovery.
Now that we're caught up with what kind of contamination we're talking about, some reports suggest eating a single fish from a contaminated fishery is equal to drinking PFAS-contaminated water for a month—a lifetime risk of certain cancers. It's enough to bring up the lakes surrounding Fort Sill and the warnings that come with fishing them.
The lakes in and around the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge have clear and present warnings of mercury contamination. The soils, water, and fish are all contaminated and nobody can offer a concrete reason why.
Officially, the government infers the mercury contamination is "most likely" from the very short Wichita Mountains gold rush during a time when mercury was used in the process of refining some types of gold.
Due to this mercury contamination, the refuge lakes are regularly listed with many other Oklahoma lakes suffering the same or similar issues, with clear warnings about eating your catch.
The wild variation and locations of mercury-tainted lakes draw doubts on the popular nomenclature that Fort Sill is responsible for the contamination... but mercury isn't the only chemical found in the refuge at or above contamination levels.
That debate shall rage on indefinitely. Even as the state is actively encouraging you to eat species of fish that are regularly found to contain the highest levels of contamination, it's up to you and your gut instinct.
PFAS contamination is widely a larger problem that we're just now discovering. While the water supply is rumored to be safe in Lawton, these forever chemicals are found in the soil, water, and wildlife all over Oklahoma.