U.S. Senators attempting to weaken FDA mercury in seafood advisory

By March 31, 2011Got Mercury?
U.S. Senators attempting to weaken FDA mercury in seafood advisory

San Francisco, CA—Two United States Senators wrote to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encouraging the mercury in seafood advisory be revised citing the current advisory “communicates an overly risk-adverse, precautionary principle.” The letter, signed by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was sent to the FDA on March 14, 2011.

GotMercury.org, a leader in the mercury in seafood arena since 2002, wrote a letter to every U.S. Senator asking them to protect the health of women and children not weaken the FDA mercury in seafood advisory.  To read the GotMercury.org letter please click here.

“The FDA advisory has helped to inform millions of women about making healthier seafood choices and avoiding high mercury seafood,” said Buffy Martin Tarbox of GotMercury.org.  “Weakening the advisory could be putting future pregnancies and young children at risk for serious health problems from mercury exposure.”

The current mercury in seafood advisory was issued jointly by the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2004.  The advisory states that women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children avoid some types of fish including swordfish, king mackerel, shark and tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.  The advisory also suggests limiting consumption of albacore tuna.

Seafood consumption remains the number one source of mercury exposure in the United States.  Volumes of scientific studies clearly show links between mercury exposure and serious health risks. Mercury can damage critical internal organs of the central nervous and cardiovascular systems. Children are particularly vulnerable to mercury’s toxic effects. Infants and children exposed to high doses of mercury in the womb or after birth may have problems with attention span, language, visual-spatial skills, memory and coordination. Very high levels of mercury exposure in children can lead to brain damage, seizures, blindness, mental retardation and even death.

According to the EPA’s data, if a 60-pound child ate one can of albacore tuna, that child would be 215 percent over the EPA’s reference dose for mercury.  The EPA has found that 15 percent of babies born in the United States each year have dangerous levels of mercury in their bodies due to their mother’s consumption of fish.

If the U.S. government hopes to promote healthier eating habits, it should advocate for the sharing of mercury in seafood information.  The FDA and the government must continue to safeguard the health of the public, especially women and children and inform the public about the health risks associated with high mercury seafood.

About GotMercury.org:  GotMercury.org 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.org developed the free online mercury-in-fish calculators at www.gotmercury.org and that have received millions of hits since 2002.