California Court Decision Puts Woman and Children at Risk for Mercury Toxicity
The First District Court of Appeals Blocks Warning Labels on
Mercury-laden Albacore and Other Canned Tuna
March 12th, 2009
Contact: Karen Steele on 415-663-8590, ext. 109 or email@example.com
Yesterday, the First District Court of Appeals announced their decision to allow a lower court decision to stand that block the requirement for a mercury warning on canned tuna. Though the decision stated, “There is no dispute that methylmercury is a reproductive toxin that can harm a developing fetus, and that the primary path for human exposure to methylmercury is the consumption of fish,” the Court based its decision on the fact that some of the mercury in tuna is “naturally” occurring and thus not covered under Prop 65 “right to Know” law. Click here to see the full decision.
“This tragic decision puts the public - particularly woman and children – at great risk from harm caused by mercury toxicity. Mercury in tuna is a poison whether it is natural or man-made,” states Karen Steele Campaign Coordinator for Got Mercury.org project of Turtle Island Restoration Network in Forest Knolls, CA. “Everyday mothers put tuna in their children’s lunches without being warned that the fish contains unsafe levels of mercury.”
Because mercury is known by the state to cause reproductive harm and cancer and is found in canned tuna, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit in 2006 to require labeling under the warning requirements of Proposition 65, the state’s chemical “right-to-know” law.
“This decision motivates us to re-double GotMercurry.org’s efforts to warn women, children (and men) to the threats of mercury-in-seafood through our online and mobile mercury calculator, policy change and public education,” states Steele.
Gotmercury.org publishes a free online mercury calculator where people can estimate mercury exposure from fish and has won legal actions to require public warning signs to be posted at seafood restaurants and stores in California.
A 45-pound child eating one can of light tuna a week would be consuming mercury at a level 40 percent higher than the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommended maximum allowable dose of mercury. (Click here to see calculator.) Pregnant women and children are the most at risk for eating too much mercury in fish. Click here to see the public health advisory for mercury in fish.
As many as 630,000 or 15 percent of newborns in the U.S. are at risk each year of neurological defects due to mercury contamination, EPA studies have found. Mercury in the form of methylmercury is a potent neurotoxin that can cause slow growth and lowered IQ, brain and kidney damage, cancer, and an increased risk of heart disease, according to the EPA.
Most large-species tuna and swordfish sold in the U. S. typically exceeds the FDA’s for mercury in commercial fish at 1 part per million mercury – which is double the amount allowed by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency for recreational fish. The FDA has never developed a “safe level” for mercury blood levels in people. The standard is based almost entirely on faulty field research from a mercury poisoning in Iraq that never safe levels for mercury exposure. This is documented in the new book “Diagnosis Mercury” by Dr. Jane Hightower of San Francisco.