Scientists say that consuming fish may be more hazardous to your health than thought just a few years ago, according to new reports published December 4th
There is widespread global mercury contamination of seafood and
consumers are experiencing health effects from methylmercury below the
level that was considered “safe” a few years ago, according to reports
by the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) in cooperation with the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI).
"The level of mercury in the Pacific Ocean is projected to increase by 50% by 2050 if current pollution trends continue unabated," said Michael Bender, ZMWG co-coordinator. "This is a wake-up call for all governments to stem the rising tide of mercury pollution and finalize a strong treaty."
The new scientific findings are to be presented at the start of the fifth and final round of United Nations negotiations to put in place a legally binding global treaty to reduce mercury use and pollution. The legal text negotiated by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee is expected to be completed on 18 January 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland.
"The latest science points to the need for strict reduction measures to address the global mercury crisis," said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, co-coordinator of ZMWG at the European Environment Bureau in Brussels, Belgium.
Other key science findings include the following:
- Larger predatory fish—such as swordfish, shark and certain species of tuna— are often listed in national fish consumption advisories due to higher mercury concentrations. Different seafood varieties can differ by at least 100-fold in their average mercury content.
- Seafood regularly consumed by people contains mercury concentrations that commonly exceed "safe" levels (based upon US EPA standards). However, there are also plenty of low mercury seafood alternatives with high omega 3 benefits;
- Several recent epidemiological studies clearly show that the consumption of ordinary amounts of fish can cause an unsafe risk to the developing foetus and children, suggesting that the current health exposure tolerance levels should be revised to reflect the latest scientific findings; and
- BRI's Global Biotic Mercury Synthesis (GBMS) project provides a standardized and comprehensive database that can be used to identify mercury data gaps, describe areas where further research is needed, and evaluate the effectiveness of the future global mercury treaty.
"We believe it is crucial to understand global baseline mercury concentrations in order to make appropriate decisions on how to evaluate the effectiveness of the treaty," David C. Evers, Ph.D., executive director of BRI and a member of the UNEP Fate and Transport Partnership Group.
Source: Zero Mercury Working Group Related Links Zero Mercury Working Group
Zero Mercury Working Group is a coalition of more than 95 NGOs around
the world working towards zero supply, demand, and emissions of mercury
from all anthropogenic sources, with the goal of reducing mercury in the
global environment to a minimum. www.zeromercury.org Biodiversity Research Institute
Biodiversity Research Institute’s mission is to assess emerging threats to wildlife and ecosystems through collaborative research, and use scientific findings to advance environmental awareness and inform decision makers. GotMercury.org: Calculate your mercury intake with the fish meal US EPA: Fish consumption advice UNEP: Reducing Risk from MercuryRelated Reports BRI - Report: Mercury in the Global Environment: Patterns of Global Seafood Mercury Concentrations and their Relationship with Human Health Zero Mercury Working Group - Report: Mercury Contamination, Exposures and Risk: A New Global Picture Emerges, December 2012 Zero Mercury Working Group - Report: An Overview of Epidemiological Evidence on the Effects of Methylmercury on Brain Development, and A Rationale for a Lower Definition of Tolerable Exposure, December 2012 Related EVISA Resources Link database: Mercury exposure through the diet Link database: Environmental cycling of mercury Link database: Toxicity of Organo-mercury compounds Link database: Research projects related to organo-mercury compounds Related EVISA News October 12, 2012: Prenatal mercury intake linked to ADHD
July 31, 2012: FDA Lands in Court Over Mercury in Fish June 17, 2012: Factors Affecting Methylmercury Accumulation in the Food Chain March 1, 2012: High levels of mercury in newborns likely from mothers eating contaminated fish October 15, 2011: Mercury pollution in the Great Lakes region -- nearly forgotten, but not gone August 16, 2010: Methylmercury: What have we learned from Minamata Bay? August 21, 2009: USGS Study Reveals Mercury Contamination in Fish Nationwide May 3, 2009: Ocean mercury on the rise February 11, 2009: Mercury in Fish is a Global Health Concern October 30, 2008: Precautionary approach to methylmercury needed
March 11, 2007: Methylmercury contamination of fish warrants worldwide public warning October 9, 2006: Linking atmospheric mercury to methylmercury in fish August 16, 2006: Mercury pollution threatens health worldwide, scientists say June 8, 2006: Methylmercury in fish: Can you cook it out ? February 17, 2006: Study shows link between clear lakes and methylmercury contamination in fish
February 9, 2006: Study show high levels of mercury in women related to fish consumption August 29, 2005: Is methyl mercury limiting the delight of
seafood ? - To answer this question is a challenge for elemental
speciation analysis January 12, 2005: Number of fish meals is a good predictor for the mercury found in hair of environmental journalists April 27, 2004: New kind of mercury found in fish April 27, 2004: FDA/EPA recommends pregnant women to restrict their fish consumption because of methylmercury content
last time modified: December 9, 2012