Wednesday, September 30, 2009

No Fishing

From Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, by Lester Brown, founder and president of the Earth Policy Institute:
"Scientists are becoming increasingly concerned about the various effects of mercury, a potent neurotoxin, which now permeates the environment in virtually all countries with coal-burning power plants and many of those with gold mines.

The EPA reports that "mercury form power plants settles over waterways, polluting rivers and lakes, and contaminating fish."

In 2006, 48 of the 50 states in the US issued a total of 3,080 fish advisories warning against eating fish from local lakes and stream because of their mercury content

EPA research indicates that 1 out of every 6 women of childbearing age in the US has enough mercury in her blood to harm a developing fetus. This means that 630,000 of the 4 million babies born in the country each year may face neurological damage from mercury exposure before birth."
While fish may be a good source for vitamin D and omega-3, they're also a good source for mercury.


Anonymous said...

Best to eat fish sparingly. I buy mercury-free distilled fish oil. Lately I've been thinking of installing a backyard aquaponics setup come spring...raise Tilapia, maybe salmon.

Steve Parker, M.D. said...

I am not hearing about any epidemic of mercury poisoning in children or any one else.

We should check additional sources.

Something's fishy here.


Perovskia said...

Steve has a point. This isn't brought up much. I've seen the statistic before (1 out of every 6), yet you don't hear much about neurological damage (to my knowledge, anyways). Could just be the usual social-scare.

"Oh no! We must freak everyone out and blow things out of proportion! Whatever will we do?! Ahhhh!"


....which isn't to say the theory/facts don't have merit. I believe it's a concern, but THAT much? I don't know..

Unknown said...

fish has always been a side for me.

there is something fishy about these warning signs.

they want us to buy fish tablets and not the fish eh?

Anonymous said...

I wish methylmercury was my only issue with eating fish these days, though I do credit alarming mercury levels for curbing my tuna addiction.

Interesting piece:

virginia said...

I disagree, Steve. First meeting with my primary MD, mercury poisoning was brought up. I rolled my eyes.

Earlier, my rheumatologist suggested flaxseed oil or fish oil for inflammation, but cautioned about mercury contamination in fish oil supplements.

I started to pay attention.

"Pediatricians can help limit children's exposures to environmental hazards, but few studies have assessed their comfort with discussing and dealing with environmental health issues. We surveyed the membership of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to assess pediatricians' attitudes and beliefs about the effect the environment can have on children's health, and to assess their practices in regard to screening for, diagnosing, and treating illnesses related to environmental exposures. Results showed that Minnesota pediatricians agree that children are suffering from preventable illnesses of environmental origin but feel ill-equipped to educate parents about many common exposures and their consequences. Responses also indicated significant demand for education on the subject and for a referral center that can evaluate patients who may be suffering from environmental exposures."

Bix said...

It's sounds credible to me that industrial waste enters air and water and contaminates fish. It's harder for me to believe that waste in water does not enter the bodies of fish and shellfish.

Both the FDA and the EPA are on record as saying that all fish contain methylmercury, it's just a matter of degree.

The current US do-not-sell limit is 1.0 ppm (1.0 parts of mercury per million parts of fish tissue).

The limit was 0.50 ppm in the 1970's. Around that time canned tuna was found to surpass that amount, so 12 million cans of tuna were recalled. The limit was quickly raised.

In 2005, reporters from the Chicago Tribune conducted an investigation of mercury in fish. It was "one of the nation's most comprehensive studies of mercury in commercial fish." They found many fish being sold over the limit:

- "The testing showed that mercury is more pervasive in fish than what the government has told the public."

- "Regulators do not inspect seafood for mercury - not in ports, processing plants or supermarkets."

- "No federal testing program exists for mercury."

-Even when found, "The government does not seize high-mercury fish that violate U.S. limits."