Mothers Across the Nation Urged to Avoid High-Mercury Seafood
San Francisco, CA—A new report released by the public health project GotMercury.org finds that high-mercury seafood across the nation is still a hazard to the health of mothers and children.
The nationwide investigation analyzed 184 samples of swordfish, tuna, salmon and sushi for mercury content from 114 retailers and restaurants across the U.S. All fish samples contained detectable amounts of mercury and over one third were found to contain mercury levels well above federal mercury action levels. For a summary of the results please click here.
“Mothers should be on high alert to avoid swordfish and tuna to keep themselves healthy,” said Buffy Martin Tarbox of GotMercury.org, based in Forest Knolls, CA. “The results show that it doesn’t matter where someone lives, high-mercury seafood is a serious problem wherever fish is being sold.”
The mercury testing project was conducted as part of a national effort initiated by GotMercury.org called Operation Safe Seafood to randomly test mercury levels in fish. The investigations were conducted in Florida, California, New York, Iowa, and Nevada. They found that on average, 35 percent of fish being sold in grocery stores exceeded the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) mercury action level.
A key finding was that 71 percent of swordfish samples registered high levels of mercury, and thirteen of those swordfish samples were more than two hundred times over the maximum acceptable levels set by federal food safety officials.
Tuna ranked second in high mercury levels, with most samples over 0.5 parts per million (ppm), the mercury action level established by the majority of developed nations and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for recreational fish. The EPA has set a mercury action level at 0.5 ppm for recreational fish, half the level of the FDA standard for commercial fish.
New scientific studies show that America’s favorite seafood–tuna–and other fish including swordfish, are contaminated with dangerous amounts of mercury, putting millions of mothers at risk. Tuna of all types is the number one source of mercury in the American diet – contributing more than one-third of all mercury ingested from fish.
GotMercury.org is calling upon food safety officials, policy makers and retailers who sell fish to do the right thing and provide their customers with mercury-in-seafood information to help fish eaters make informed choices and protect their health.
Eighty-four percent of the stores included in this study did not have mercury-in-seafood advisory signs posted to alert customers about the hazards of high-mercury seafood. GotMercury.org has been seeking legislative action at the state and federal level to require all seafood sellers to post mercury-in-fish warning signs.
According to the Got Mercury.org fish calculator, a woman who weighs 140 pounds and eats a six-ounce portion of fresh tuna this week will be exposed to a mercury level that is 144 percent above government exposure guidelines. The free, easy-to-use calculator based on U.S. fish-mercury standards found at www.gotmercury.org can help guide people towards fish that contain lesser amounts of mercury.
Mercury contamination of seafood is a widespread public health problem, especially for women of childbearing age, pregnant and nursing women and children. Studies have shown that mercury ingestion can lead to memory loss, developmental and learning disorders, vision loss, heart disease and, in extreme cases, can result in death.
About GotMercury: The Gotmercury campaign works to protect people and the environment from mercury. Because of the ubiquitous nature of mercury in the environment and because federal and state public health agencies are not doing enough to raise public awareness and protect the public from mercury, GotMercury developed the free online mercury-in-fish calculators that have received millions of hits since 2002. For more information visit www.gotmercury.org or www.gotmercury.mobi.