Mercury in Fish Study to Strengthen Government Guidelines

A study by nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that the 2014 draft recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the varieties of low-mercury fish that pregnant women can and/or should. The draft suggested that pregnant women could eat 8 to 12 ounces (or 2 to 3 servings) of low-mercury fish, such as salmon, tilapia, and cod per week. However, EWG just released a report stating that 254 women of childbearing age from 40 states were reportedly eating “as much or slightly more fish than the government recommendations over a period of two months.” Exposure to mercury during pregnancy would negatively affect the fetus’s developing brain and nervous system that could end up causing lifelong deficits in learning, memory and reaction times.


Should the government revise the draft guideline? And should the doctors also be specifically informed about what types of fish (especially those with potential higher mercury exposure like tuna) that pregnant women can and/or should eat?

2 thoughts on “Mercury in Fish Study to Strengthen Government Guidelines”

  1. The guidelines probably should be revised, especially since the amount of mercury in the specific fish a pregnant woman is eating cannot be easily verified. A major problem with mercury in fish is that it does not go away – meaning that, if a smaller fish contains mercury, then is eaten by a larger fish who may not be contaminated, the larger fish now contains mercury, and the amount of mercury will grow as it preys upon smaller fish that contain mercury.

    For example, in my home state of Hawaii, there’s a reef fish called the<a href="http://peacock grouper“> that probably would be very tasty (and is considered invasive, so eating it would get rid of serious problems), but is known for its high mercury content because it eats a lot of smaller fish that have low mercury content, and the toxins accumulate. Because the amount of mercury varies depending on the individual fish, a mercury test would need to be conducted on each peacock grouper before it could legally be sold. That is just not economically feasible, so they are not caught for food.

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