Avoid These Mercury Laden Fish

Mercury in the fish we like to eat is a big problem in the United States and increasingly around the world. Human industrial activity (such as coal-fired electricity generation, smelting and the incineration of waste) ratchets up the amount of airborne mercury, which eventually finds its way into lakes, rivers and the ocean, where it is gobbled up by unsuspecting fish and other marine life.

Once this mercury gets into the marine food chain, it “bioaccumulates” in the larger predators. That’s why larger fish are generally riskier to eat than smaller ones. Those of us who eat too much mercury-laden fish can suffer from a range of health maladies including reproductive troubles and nervous system disorders.

In partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the EPA issues determinations periodically in regard to how much mercury is safe for consumers to ingest from eating fish, posting advisories on its website www.epa.gov/airquality/powerplanttoxics/. Concerned consumers can click on a map of the states to find out which advisories may be in effect in their area.

As for which fish to avoid, the non-profit Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), which runs the handy Seafood Selector website reports that people with mercury concerns should steer clear of bluefin tuna, walleye, king mackerel and marlin. Bluefish, shark, swordfish, wild sturgeon, opah and bigeye tuna carry a proportionately large mercury burden as well. Also of concern, but to a slightly lesser extent, are orange roughy, Chilean sea bass, blue crab, lingcod, Spanish mackerel, spotted sea trout, wahoo, grouper, snapper, halibut, tilefish, rockfish and sablefish, as well as blackfin, albacore and yellowfin tuna.

Representatives from 140 countries signed on to reduce global mercury pollution at a 2009 United Nations Environment Program’s Governing Council meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. The agreement commits signatory countries — including the U.S. — to cutting back on the use and emission of mercury. A legally binding treaty mandating just how much each country will have to cut back mercury emissions takes hold in 2013.

Source: E-Magazine.com, December 11, 2011