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Mercury in Fish is a Global Health Concern

(11.02.2009)


Background:
Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that can make its way up the food chain into humans, and poses an increased exposure risk to developing fetuses and young children and to adults exposed to mercury. Methylmercury, the mercury species found in fish, is one of the strongest neurotoxins and is absorbed by humans from food to a high percentage.

New results about mercury in fish:
As the world's governments convene next week to discuss developing a legally binding treaty on mercury, citizens' groups from around the world have released a new report calling attention to the significant global human health hazards caused by mercury in fish and fish-eating marine mammals. Over twenty groups from around the world (1), including the international Zero Mercury Working Group (2) released the study, which maintains that the problem demands an effective response from governments and the United Nations.

"Mercury contamination of fish and mammals is a global public health concern," said Michael Bender, co-coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group. "Our study of fish tested in different locations around the world shows that internationally accepted exposure levels for methylmercury are exceeded, often by wide margins, in each country and area covered."

According to the report, "Mercury in Fish: An Urgent Global Health Concern," the risk is greatest for populations whose per capita fish consumption is high, and in areas where pollution has elevated the average mercury content of fish. In cultures where fish-eating marine mammals are part of the traditional diet, mercury in these animals can add substantially to total dietary exposure. In addition, the study shows that methylmercury hazards still exist where these dietary and local pollutant levels are less prevalent.

The report indicates that mercury is a persistent, bioaccumulative transboundary pollutant that contaminates our air, soil, water and fish. Because of this potential for global contamination, mercury pollution requires a coordinated international response.

"The report outlines that all governments face similar threats from mercury since it is a global pollutant that contaminates fish around the world," said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator Zero Mercury Campaign, European Environmental Bureau. "In response, governments should agree to start work immediately on a global mercury treaty at the United Nations meeting in Nairobi next week."

More Information:
The full report is available at: www.mercurypolicy.org.


Related EVISA Resources

EVISA Link Database: Toxicity of different mercury species
EVISA Link Database: Mercury in Fish



Related News

EVISA News, August 16, 2006: Mercury pollution threatens health worldwide, scientists say

EVISA News, February 17, 2006:  Study shows link between clear lakes and methylmercury contamination in fish

EVISA News, Februar 9, 2006: Study show high levels of mercury in women related to fish consumption

EVISA News, August 29, 2005: Is methyl mercury limiting the delight of seafood ? - To answer this question is a challenge for elemental speciation analysis

EVISA News, April 27th, 2004: FDA/EPA recommends pregnant women to restrict their fish consumption because of methylmercury content


last time modified: February 11, 2008



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