DNR, health officials warn: Don’t eat liver from deer near Marinette Tyco plant

Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 10:57 AM CDT
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MARINETTE, Wis. (WBAY) - Don’t eat the livers of deer hunted within 5 miles of the JCI/Tyco Fire Technology Center in Marinette. The warning came Tuesday from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Health Services.

Twenty white-tailed deer were harvested in that area, which includes Marinette, Peshtigo and other communities, and tests found high levels of PFAS in their livers. PFAS are chemicals that are harmful to human health, particularly to pregnant women. Exposure to high levels has been linked to health problems such as cancer and thyroid disease.

PFAS have been a concern since they were discovered in the groundwater in Peshtigo and around Johnson Controls' Tyco Fire Products, which used the chemicals to make firefighting foam. The chemicals are also used in biosolids which are spread on farms (click here for related story).

PFAS were found at very low levels, or not at all, in the heart tissue or venison of the deer, so those are considered safe to eat.

“We want to be clear that people should feel comfortable eating venison from deer they’ve harvested near this area,” Tami Ryan, DNR wildlife health section chief, wrote in a news release. “We just advise they do not consume the liver.”

“We do not know how far back this contamination has gone so I guess if it’s something where there’s still some liver in the freezer, use your best judgment with the information that we have provided,” said Sean Strom, DNR Fish and Wildlife Toxicologist.

At the beginning of the month, a law took effect banning the use of firefighting foam made with PFAS except under emergency circumstances or at testing facilities with adequate safeguards to contain it (see related story).

Read more about PFAS contamination in the Marinette and Peshtigo areas on the DNR website.

The DNR plans to test more deer for PFAS in the upcoming gun-deer season.

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