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Eat Fish Often? Calculate Your Mercury Risk Now

February 23, 2005 | 23,665 views

FishIt'swell known that eating seafood contaminated with mercury is a threatto human health, and particularly to pregnant women and children.A campaign has been started by Gotmercury.org and the Turtle IslandRestoration Network to protect the public from these toxic effects.

Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns pregnant women,children and women who might become pregnant to avoid eating certainfish species because of their excessively high levels of methylmercury.These include:

  • Swordfish
  • Shark
  • Tilefish
  • King mackerel
  • Tuna (reduce intake)

A major goal of the campaign is to reduceU.S. consumption of swordfish, tuna and other mercury-contaminatedseafood. They state two primary reasons for this:

  • Mercury-contaminated seafood is a major public health concern.
  • Long-line fishing fleets that target swordfish and tuna also catch endangered sea turtles and other marine life, which is profoundly upsetting the ecological balance of the world's oceans.

There are no mercury advisories to warn consumers of this potentialthreat, so GotMercury.org has developed a calculator to help consumersgauge how much mercury they are eating. The "Got Mercury? Calculator"http://www.gotmercury.org/ can help you decide how much, and whattype, of seafood is safe for you and your family. And, it'ssimple: Just enter your weight, the seafood type and quantity, andhit the calculator button. The online calculator will tell you whetheryour consumption exceeds the EPA's safe limit for mercury.

GotMercury.orgFebruary 7, 2005


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

In a perfect world, fish would be a near-perfect food. It'shigh in protein and full of essential nutrients and healthy fats.Unfortunately, nearly all fish are contaminated with mercury. And,because it rapidly bioaccumulates in the food chain, mercury isfound in higher concentrations of larger, older fish and predatoryspecies like shark, tuna and swordfish. If you eat fish often, toprotect your health you should know how much mercury you may beeating based on your weight.

Now, there's an easy way to find out. The online mercury calculatorat GotMercury.orgis an excellent tool for consumers to find out if the seafood they'reeating is exposing them to levels of mercury above the EPA'srecommended limit.

For example, the site lists arecent study by Turtle Island Restoration Project about themercury levels in swordfish. Some 68 percent of swordfish samplestested were above the FDA Action Level of 1 ppm mercury and 16 percentwere more than 2 ppm -- more than twice the FDA's Action Level. Theaverage mercury concentration found: 1.38 ppm, 38 percent higherthan the FDA Action Level.

This calculator is likely to be an eye-opening experience formany consumers who don't realize just how much mercury is inthe fish they're eating. But, even with the calculator to assessrisk, I still wouldn't recommend regularly eating fish -- unlessyou are absolutely certain that it is free from mercury and otherharmful toxins that are present in seafood (like PCBsand dioxin) and PBDEs.

At this time the only way to be sure is to have your fish labtested. When you visit your supermarket, ask the fish handlers wherethe fish comes from. They may contact the manufacturer for you,otherwise contact them on your own and ask if their fish has beentested for mercury and PCBs.

Chances are high that is has not, which is why we did some extensivetesting of our own. We tested fish from a company that takes salmonfrom the interior of Alaska and were delighted to find that it testedsafe from mercury and PCBs. You can order the Alaskanwild red salmon from Vital Choice conveniently on our site.At this time it's the only fish I can safely recommend.

There's another option for obtaining the nutritional benefitsof fish without risking the toxic effects of mercury, and that isregularly consuming high-quality krill oil.

Related Articles:

Do You Know the FactsAbout Mercury in Fish?

What You Must Know BeforeYou Eat Fish

Most of the U.S. FishSupply Contains Harmful Levels of Mercury

Well-Known RestaurantsSued for Failing to Warn of Mercury-Laden Fish

More Than 300,000Newborns Get Mercury From Fish Every Year

Study Challenges FindingThat Mercury From Fish Does Not Harm Fetuses

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