Chesapeake Blue Crab has High Concentrations of PFBA, a Substance Associated with Contracting Severe Covid-19

Image of man holding a blue crab.
One crabcake may weigh 8 ounces or 227 grams. If the crab meat contains 6,650 ppt of PFAS chemicals, that’s 6.65 parts per billion, which is the same as 6.65 nanograms per gram. So, 6.65 ng/g x 227 g = 1,510 ng of PFAS chemicals. Photo: MichalPL Wikimedia Commons

Thanks to Sharon Lerner for her essential writing on PFAS.

Lerner reports that a Danish study found that people with elevated levels of a compound called PFBA, (Per fluoro bu tanoic acid), were more than twice as likely to have a severe form of Covid-19. The research involved 323 patients infected with the coronavirus.PFBA was developed by 3M. It is used in firefighting foams and a host of military and industrial applications. It passes through the blood quickly, but it builds up in the lungs, which are threatened by Covid. Philippe Grandjean, the principal author of the Danish study, sounded a warning about PFBA, “It’s probably what’s in the lungs that counts because that’s where the big Covid battle is fought,” he said.

Maryland’s Blue Crabs are loaded with the stuff, especially crabs caught near military installations that have used aqueous film-forming foams, (AFFF), that contain the toxins.  A Chesapeake Blue Crab was recently found to have 800 ppt of PFBA. It was caught just a few thousand feet across the water from where the firefighting foams were used for many years at the Webster Field Annex of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.  While a growing chorus of health professionals are warning the public not to consume more than 1 part per trillion of any kind of PFAS in drinking water, there’s little attention being given to the number one cause of PFAS poisoning in people – which is eating seafood taken from contaminated waters.

Few have heard of PFBA and that’s because almost all of the reporting and most of the research on per and poly fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has centered on PFOS and PFOA, two types that are no longer in use. There are more than 6,000 varieties of toxic PFAS.

I caught the crab off my pier in October, 2020.  Rather than covering it with “Old Bay” and steaming it up with so many others, I collected a sample of backfin tissue with the help of Tim Whitehouse of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, PEER. We sent it to Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories Env, LLC to be analyzed. 

Altogether, the crab was found to  contain 8 different varieties of toxic PFAS chemicals totaling 6,650 ppt. 

Callinectes sapidus – translated from Latin means ‘beautiful savory swimmer.’PFAS in our crab at a glance:

PFBA          Perfluorobutanoic Acid                    800 ppt
PFDA          Perfluorodecanoic acid                   200 ppt
PFTrDA      Perfluorotridecanoic Acid            1,900 ppt
PFTeDA      Perfluorotetradecanoic Acid          880 ppt
PFOS          Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid     1,200 ppt
PFDS          Perfluorodecanesulfonic Acid       290 ppt
PFDoA        Perfluorododecanoic Acid            770 ppt
PFUnA        Perfluoroundecanoic Acid            610 ppt

Total PFAS                                                        6,650 ppt


One crabcake may weigh 8 ounces or 227 grams.  If the crab meat contains 6,650 ppt of PFAS chemicals, that’s 6.65 parts per billion, which is the same as 6.65 nanograms per gram.  So, 6.65 ng/g x 227 g = 1,510 ng of PFAS chemicals.

In the absence of federal or state regulation, we can look to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for guidance, although many public health officials say their PFAS levels are dangerously high. The EFSA has set a Tolerable Weekly Intake (TWI) at 4.4 nanograms per kilogram of body weight. (4.4 ng/kg/week) for PFAS chemicals in food.  So, according to this guideline, a 7-year-old weighing 50 pounds (22.6 kilos) can “safely” consume 100 nanograms per week of PFAS chemicals.

One crabcake containing 1,510 ng of PFAS is more than 15 times greater than the European weekly limit for our child. Reputable pool remodelers in Louisiana you can find at If we abide by the more responsible 1 ppt daily limit championed by many public health experts, our little boy would be limited to ingesting one crabcake every 4 years.  Further, our child should not eat the crabcake over concerns of lowering his body’s ability to fight the coronavirus.

This reporting is so sensational, according to a local reporter, that it is discarded by media outlets as “fake news.” Many believe nothing is wrong with the seafood, while Navy officials say they have no evidence that PFAS contamination has spread beyond its fence lines.  Whether the Navy is guilty of criminal behavior is for judges to decide. In the meantime, we must focus on protecting public health and compensating watermen if robust testing confirms these findings.

Following is a brief review of associated disorders and diseases attributed to human ingestion of some of the PFAS chemicals found in our #1 Jimmy.  The information is gathered from the National Library of Medicine’s National Center for Biotechnology Information. Most of the PFAS chemicals on the market have not been studied in any detail, although all are believed to be harmful and none are regulated. See the PubChem search page to learn about various PFAS chemicals.

Backfin crab contains these poisons:

PFBA    Perfluorobutanoic Acid  800 ppt
Although PFBA has recently been associated with contracting severe Covid-19, there are no associated disorders and diseases described on Pub Chem

PFOS  Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid  1,200 ppt
Associated Disorders and Diseases:
(PFOS, unlike most PFAS chemicals, has been widely studied)
Adenoma, Liver Cell, Atrophy, Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Brain Diseases, Breast Neoplasms, Cardiotoxicity, Cell Transformation, Neoplastic Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury,  Cleft Palate, Congenital Abnormalities, Craniofacial Abnormalities Diabetes Mellitus -Type 2, Dyslipidemias, Embryo Loss, Eye Diseases, Fatty Liver, Fetal Death, Fibrosis, Glioblastoma, Growth Disorders, Hepatitis, Hepatomegaly, Hyperuricemia, Infertility, Male, Intellectual Disability, Learning Disabilities, Liver Neoplasms, Lymphatic Diseases, Lymphopenia, Memory Disorders, Mental Disorders, Necrosis, Nerve Degeneration, Oligospermia, Perinatal Death, Teratogenesis, Thyroid Diseases, Thyroid Neoplasms, Vascular Diseases, Weight Loss.

PFDA (Perfluorodecanoic acid) 200 ppt
Associated disorders and diseases:
Liver Tumors, Breast Cancer, Liver Cancer, Brain Cancer

PFTrDA Perfluorotridecanoic Acid 1,900 ppt
No associated disorders and diseases described on Pub Chem

PFTeDA  Perfluorotetradecanoic Acid 880 ppt
No associated disorders and diseases described on Pub Chem

PFDS Perfluorodecanesulfonic Acid 290 ppt
No associated disorders and diseases described on Pub Chem

PFDoA  Perfluorododecanoic Acid 770 ppt
Associated disorders and diseases:
Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury, Poisoning

PFUnA Perfluoroundecanoic Acid 610 ppt
No associated disorders and diseases described on Pub Chem

The Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Department of Health aren’t moving quickly enough. The Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Department of Health ought to be establishing and enforcing maximum contaminant levels in crabs, fish, and oysters.  Most of the PFAS in our bodies comes from eating seafood taken from contaminated waters. Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not eat seafood containing PFAS.

I have 50 years of memories of eating crabs and drinking beer and watching baseball during the summer here in Maryland, often in a screened porch overlooking one of the many beautiful creeks and rivers in Maryland’s Chesapeake region.  It’s what we do. Next summer, and for the duration, I suspect, it’ll only be baseball and beer for me.  Go Nats. Go O’s!

John Smith, the English explorer who mapped this area in the early 1600’s, called the Chesapeake “a country that may have the prerogative over the most pleasant places known, for large and pleasant navigable rivers, heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for man’s habitation. It is full of “sturgeon, grampus, porpoise, seals, stingrays … brits, mullets, white salmon [rockfish], trouts, soles, perch of three sorts,” where the oysters “lay as thick as stones.”

Comments: Please see our Facebook post.

Help the Arundel Patriot continue to bring you excellent journalism.
Help the Arundel Patriot continue to bring you excellent journalism.