Mercury in Fish is a Global Health Concern
Citizens' groups say problem warrants immediate United Nations action
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
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."
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
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
News, April 27th, 2004: FDA/EPA recommends pregnant women to restrict
their fish consumption because of methylmercury content
last time modified: February 11, 2008