Friday, June 20, 2008

Tuna Sushi Contains Hazardously High Levels of Mercury

A study conducted by the New York Times has found dangerously high levels of mercury in tuna sushi sold in New York City.

Investigators for the Times purchased 44 pieces of tuna sushi from local stores and restaurants. More than half of the locations sold sushi that tested so high for mercury that eating six pieces per week would expose a person to unsafe levels, according to standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA standard presumes that the average adult weighs 154 pounds. People weighing less than that should consume even less mercury.

Eight of the 44 pieces tested had mercury levels high enough that eating even two or three pieces a week would exceed the EPA's "safe" intake levels. With concentrations of more than one part per million, this sushi exceeds the "action level" at which the FDA is empowered to take it off the market.

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin, known to accumulate in the bodies of predatory and long-lived fish in particular. In 2004, the FDA and EPA warned children and women who might become pregnant to eat only limited amounts of certain kinds of canned tuna. Fresh tuna, however, was not included in the warning.

The fresh tuna sampled in the Times study contained significantly more mercury that is usually found in canned fish.

A 2007 survey conducted by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found that the average New Yorker has blood mercury levels three times higher than the national average. Levels among Asians and higher income groups, both of which are known to eat more seafood, are even higher.

Numerous studies have linked seafood consumption to high blood mercury levels.

"The current advice from the FDA is insufficient," said Philippe Grandjean, of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Department of Environmental Medicine at the University of Southern Denmark. "In order to maintain reasonably low mercury exposure you have to eat fish low in the food chain, the smaller fish, and they are not saying that."

[Via Natural News]

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