Disputing 'elevated' mercury guidelines

Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2007

After reading about the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation's "guidelines" about "elevated" mercury levels, I thought I would share information dispelling myths about mercury in fish.

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For instance, Duke University and Los Angeles County Natural History Museum jointly compared mercury levels of Atlantic Ocean blue hake caught in the 1880s with those caught in the 1970s, finding no change in mercury concentrations.

A Princeton study found lower mercury concentrations in yellowfin tuna caught in 1998 than those caught in 1971. The Smithsonian Institution discovered that mercury levels in tuna caught between 1971 and 1993 were up to 50 percent lower than those caught from 1878 to 1909.

Alaska's own Public Health Department found mercury concentrations in the hair of roughly 550-year-old Alaskan mummies that were twice as high as the average blood/mercury concentrations of modern-day Alaskans.

A 12-year-study found that people of the Seychelles, off the African coast, averaging more than one dozen weekly meals with fish, had blood/mercury levels 10 times higher than those of average Americans but great health benefits from fish consumption without ill effects.

Fish provide greater health benefits as well as essential omega-3 oils proven to decrease the risk of reproductive cancers, diabetes, arthritis, low birth weight, postpartum depression and other ailments otherwise affecting people scared from eating fish. The Archives of Neurology have published at least two studies in the 2000s showing lower risk of Alzheimer's for old age pensioners who eat fish at least once a week. A 2004 study found that Bristol, United Kingdom, children whose mothers had eaten high amounts of fish when pregnant not only had no ill effects with fish-borne mercury but also higher test scores.

The state pays too much attention to scare-mongering and not enough to common sense and to science - real science, not the propaganda coming from Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, or the Environmental Working Group. They should follow the Seychelles - or Japan, where people eat more fish yet live longer lives on average than those in the United States - and not discourage fish consumption.

Brian Mora

Joplin, Mo.

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