Dangerous Fish

By Alexis Warnock

Inorganic mercury, released through burning wastes and fossil fuels, forms an extremely toxic substance, methylmercury, by the action of anaerobic organisms in the water. Once formed, methylmercury is consequently absorbed by fish through the consumption of aquatic organisms and other fish. As a result of this process, the top of the aquatic food chain, the largest and longest living fish, have high levels of mercury. The health impact on humans, while not completely understood, could be quite serious. The vulnerable neurodevelopment of fetuses, infants and young children puts them particularly at risk and raises concerns for women in child bearing years, women who are pregnant, breast feeding women, and children. The recommendations for these groups is to avoid fish with high levels of mercury, such as, shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tile fish and to limit all fish consumption to 12ounces per week. Canned albacore tuna should be limited to 6 ounces per week. Although the recommended limit for anyone who does not fall into these categories is 3 times higher, there is no clear evidence on how this seafood effects the general population. It is important for everyone to be aware of the potential for mercury poisoning and when eating seafood, choose fish less likely to be contaminated. For more information, Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch

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