Editor's note: October is National Seafood Month, and to celebrate, we’ll be featuring a series of blog posts about seafood, sustainable fishing and health. Today we’re taking on mercury.
Maybe when you think of mercury you think of old thermometers. But did you know that mercury in seafood can affect your health?
As a result of antiquated manufacturing techniques, a few chlorine factories release mercury pollution into nearby rivers and streams, which ends up in the ocean, where it travels up the food chain, becoming more and more concentrated in larger and larger fish, including favorites such as tuna and swordfish.
What’s the danger of mercury in fish? Mercury is a neurotoxin and can cause symptoms such as headaches, foggy thinking, muscle stiffness, dizziness, nausea, and hair loss. Mercury is dangerous for women who are or may become pregnant because children are particularly susceptible to the effects of mercury poisoning.
The best way to protect yourself and your family is to learn what kinds of seafood have high mercury levels and to consume these only in moderation. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide contains information about mercury levels as well as about sustainability.
We’ve made progress over the years, both in requiring stores to provide information about mercury and in getting companies to switch to less dangerous ways of producing chlorine. However, mercury in fish remains an issue. Just this summer, Oceana was instrumental in convincing the Spanish government to release a study finding that more than half of mako shark and swordfish samples had dangerous levels of mercury.
You can learn more about mercury and you can also take action by asking Walmart and Sam’s Club to post safety notifications about mercury in fish.
- Massachusetts Takes a Step Forward For Sharks Posted Fri, July 25, 2014
- Ocean News: Brazil Bans Catfish Fishery to Protect Pink River Dolphins, Arctic Ice Melt Leading to Large Arctic Waves, and More Posted Thu, July 31, 2014
- Loggerhead Sea Turtles Gain Protection with Swordfish Drift Gillnet Fishery Restriction Posted Fri, July 25, 2014
- Video: Watch Dozens of Baby Loggerhead Sea Turtles Scurry to the Ocean Posted Thu, July 31, 2014
- Ocean News: NC Fishermen Face Tighter Restrictions, Antarctic Fur Seals Hurt by Climate Change, and More Posted Mon, July 28, 2014