Mercury in Fish Should Make Moms Rethink That Tuna Sandwich

lobsterYou know how we keep hearing that mercury in fish is really bad for us? I'm hearing now that's it's really, really bad for us. As in, "Scientists say that consuming fish may be more hazardous to your health than you think." And to that I say: How do YOU know how hazardous I think eating fish is, scientists?

But that's not the point. The point is, even lower levels of mercury in fish once deemed "safe" are still harming us. Environmental health scientist Dr. Edward Groth warns, "These are not trivial effects, these are significant effects. There does appear to be evidence now, fairly persuasive evidence, that adverse effects occur from normal amounts of seafood consumption." Clearly the guidelines we've been using for safe fish to eat need to be updated. Is it safe to eat any fish?!?


The short answer is yes. Goth says he's not trying to talk people out of eating fish at all, especially since it has such great health benefits. It's just that we need more accurate information for making the healthiest choices.

And the bigger picture: We need to make a greater commitment to reduce mercury contamination in our oceans. And by "we" I mean industries and nations. That's the harder part. Industries really hate those pesky regulations that try and limit how much they can pollute.

But in the meantime, which fish are safest to eat? A summary from one of the recently-published reports lists some low-mercury fish (see the table on the third page). The list includes:

  • Haddock
  • Salmon
  • Cod
  • Mullet
  • Pacific mackerel
  • Eel
  • Carp

(They don't specify Pacific/Atlantic/farmed/wild salmon.) Shrimp is supposed and shellfish like oysters are lower in mercury as well. Yes, bivalves "clean out" toxins in the water, but that doesn't mean they collect all those toxins.

High-mercury fish to avoid include... oh dear, many delicious delicacies of the sea. Maybe eat these only once a year?

  • Lobster (yes, I'm sad, too)
  • Tuna
  • Snapper
  • Swordfish
  • King mackerel
  • Marlin

Pretty much every kind of tuna is high in mercury. So much for your sushi! If you like the canned stuff, albacore is much higher in mercury than "light" tuna. But still... So much for my son's love of canned tuna sandwiches. I think I'll have to start swapping in Pacific mackerel instead.

Do you eat any kinds of fish regularly?


Image via Adriana Velez

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