MERCURY.. In our fish

Is there mercury in the fish? Yes there is mercury in all fish.

In spite of the health benefits provided by omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils, people are decreasing fish in their diets due to high levels of mercury found in some fish. Elevated levels of Mercury, a toxin affecting cognitive development in unborn children, is being found in many species of fish raising health concerns from eating mercury laden fish. In America one-in-six children born every year have been exposed to mercury levels so high that they are potentially at risk for learning disabilities and motor skill impairment and short-term memory loss.

So what is mercury?
Mercury is a naturally occurring metal, which has several forms. The metallic mercury is a shiny, silver-white odorless liquid. This is the type of mercury used in thermometers. If heated, it is a colorless, odorless gas.

It is a metal found in various forms such as volcanoes, undersea vents, forest fires, and weathering of rocks all release it. It has been identified on the sun as well as in meteorites and moon rocks. Since mercury is an element, it is not biodegradable. Once it enters the environment, it stays there. There are three forms of mercury that exist today. The silver mercury found in thermometers, barometers, batteries, and dental fillings is metallic mercury. It is also used in gold mining and the production of chlorine gas. It stays liquid at normal temperatures but evaporates when exposed to atmosphere. From there, it can return to the soil and water through precipitation. Mercury combined with non-carbon elements such as chlorine, sulfur, and oxygen is called inorganic mercurials. This type of mercury is used in some skin-lightening creams, topical antiseptics, disinfectants, and antibacterials. Lastly, mercury that combines with carbon is organic mercury. It is the organic form, methylmercury, which has led to the fish consumption warnings.

Mercury is one of the MAIN preserving agents in most vaccines. Your doctor would tell you if you got pregnant within 3 months after getting immunise, you would have to get an abortion. Mercury is what is believed to be the cause of autism.

One government analysis shows that 630,000 children each year are exposed to potentially unsafe mercury levels in the womb. If the government and its scientists know about the mercury problem, why do so many people continue to be poisoned?

What happens to mercury when it enters the environment?

Methylmercury builds up in the tissues of fish. Larger and older fish tend to have the highest levels of mercury. People can breathe in small amounts of mercury metallic if a spill occurs at home or at work.

Why is there mercury in the fish?
Primarily it's due to contaminents in bodies of water, whether in oceans, lakes, streams, etc. The majority of this pollution comes from manufacturing or agricultural industries either through dumping contaminents illegally or through the process of run-off, i.e. crop dusting plans spray crop fields with herbicides and the chemicals drain into lakes, streams, etc after it rains. From a manufacturing standpoint, the Mercury is released through smoke stacks, and when it rains, the rain carries the Mercury into the lakes, streams, oceans, etc.

Bacteria convert the Mercury into a form that is easily absorbed by small insects and other organisms. When fish eat these, they absorb the Mercury. When a bigger fish eats a smaller fish, it absorbs it's Mercury as well and this is how it moves up the food chain to humans.

What areas of the world are affected?

The entire world. There is not one place, not one fish and not one ocean that does not contain mercury. The study, conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, tested fish from nearly 300 streams across the country for traces of mercury, and found that every sampled fish contained the substance.

What about farm raised fish?

Farmed fish have more problems. Not only do they contain mercury, the conditions in which fish are farmed may be the reason infections such as columnaris disease are becoming increasingly virulent, as aquaculture creates selective pressures that encourage the most lethal strains of disease to thrive. That is the conclusion of a 23-year study conducted at a fish farm in Finland. According to the research, led by Dr Katja Pulkkinen of the University of Jyväskylä and published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, the high density of fish, the stress of the animals and even the treatment administered to them have acted as selective pressures favouring the more virulent strains of the pathogens.Columnaris disease, caused by the bacterium Flavobacterium columnare, leads to skin lesions, fin erosion and gill necrosis and has become a serious problem in aquaculture. In the US, it is one of the biggest causes of death in farmed catfish, costing the industry millions of dollars a year.

What are the effects of mercury on my body?
The nervous system is very sensitive to all forms of mercury. Methylmercury and metallic mercury vapors are more harmful than other forms, because more mercury in these forms reaches the brain. Mercury in the mother’s body passes to the fetus and may accumulate there. Very young children are more sensitive to mercury than adults. Exposures to high levels of mercury can permanently damage adult organs, including the brain, kidneys, and a developing fetus. Effects on brain function in adults may result in irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems.

An article I saw on the net today:

The country continues to fish at-risk species that its population doesn't even want to eat:
Over the past few weeks, Japan has once again been spotlighted as a great villain of sustainable fishing. "The Cove," the documentary about illegal dolphin fishing off the Japanese coast, won the Academy Award for best documentary. Its producers staged a sting on a Los Angeles Japanese restaurant that served illegal whale meat (the restaurant has now been closed). And now Japan has managed to keep a proposed international trade ban on the Atlantic bluefin tuna from being passed at a United Nations conference in Doha, Qatar.

The bluefin, which can grow up to 150 pounds, is widely believed to be in danger of extinction -- its population currently hovers at about 15 percent of its historical size. Last week's attempt to protect the fish pitted the United States and the European Union against Japan, which, according to the Times of London, managed to convince enough countries of the potential economic dangers of a ban to keep the motion from going through. (Japan consumes 80 percent of the world's bluefin tuna catch, largely as sushi and sashimi.)To read the full article go to


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