Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mercury Poisoning...

What is Methylmercury? How do you get it? What does it do?

Methylmercury is the most toxic form of mercury. Exposure to methylmercury is usually by ingestion, and it is absorbed more readily and excreted more slowly than other forms of mercury. It affects the immune system, alters genetic and enzyme systems, and damages the nervous system, including coordination and the senses of touch, taste, and sight. Methylmercury is particularly damaging to developing embryos, which are five to ten times more sensitive than adults.

Here is an Article from The New York Times on Methylmercury poisoning. It list Blindness, cerbral palsy, deafness, Growth problems, mental retardation and Microcephaly (small head) as symptoms/side effects of methylmercury poisoning. 

Methylmercury causing Homosexuality in birds. I know this sounds crazy, but it is fact. Here is an article about it! Its a must read! Very interesting!

Below is an article about the village of Taiji, Japan and the dangers they are in due to eating large amounts of Dolphin and whale meat. This is a huge threat to these people, and Japan in general. If this problem does not get under control their could be long term damage to to population.
(I am not going to get into the debate of should they be killing dolphins and whales, or the unbelievable amount of seafood this this post. I just want to look at the facts of Mercury.)
Article from The Japan Times Online. You can find the Article here

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2009

Mercury danger in dolphin meat

Staff writer
SAPPORO — The annual dolphin hunt in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, as documented in the film "The Cove" has sparked an emotional international debate, with animal rights activists

decrying the capture and slaughter as unnecessary and cruel, and those in Japan who defend the slaughter as both legally permissible under international treaties and an ancient tradition.

But for Tetsuya Endo, a professor at the Health Sciences University of Hokkaido, there is a far more important issue related to the hunt that the public and the government must address.
Dolphin and whale meat is high in mercury, and Endo, one of the world's foremost authorities on mercury levels in dolphins and whales caught off Japan's coastal waters, has discovered Taiji residents who eat the meat sold in local stores have extremely high concentrations in their bodies.
"Between December 2007 and July 2008, myself and a team of scientists and researchers took hair samples from 30 male and 20 female residents of the Taiji area. In three cases, the levels of mercury present were more than 50 parts per million, high enough that it was possible nerve damage, like that seen in victims of Minamata disease, could occur," Endo told The Japan Times in an interview last week.
Endo's tests revealed that one Taiji man in his 50s had a mercury level of 67.2 parts per million. The average mercury level of all 50 subjects was 21.6 ppm for the men and 11.9 ppm for the women.
The average level of mercury present in Japanese people as a whole is only 2.55 ppm for men and 1.43 ppm for women, which means Taiji residents had mercury levels about 10 times the national average.
Meat from pilot whales is quite common in Taiji area stores, and hair samples taken from people who said they ate pilot whale meat more than once a month had an average mercury level of 25.6 ppm, while those who ate the meat once every few months had an average level of 15.5 ppm.
"We discovered that people weren't eating whale meat every day. At most, they were eating it a few times a month. The problem is that although the frequency of eating the meat was low, the levels of mercury in the meat were surprisingly high," Endo said.
Three of the subjects agreed to stop eating whale meat after learning their mercury levels were high.
By the time Endo's study was concluded in July 2008, their levels of mercury had dropped considerably.
The revelation that Taiji residents who ate whale and dolphin meat had high levels of mercury was not a surprise to Endo, as previous testing showed that the meat had far higher levels than the government standard for fish in general.
Between 2002 and 2006, Endo led a team that purchased 60 different samples of whale and dolphin meat in Taiji and neighboring Nachikatsuura.
"The tests showed that the average levels of mercury and methyl mercury in the pilot whale meat bought in Taiji were 9.6 ppm and 5.9 ppm, respectively. Given that Japan's standards are 0.4 ppm and 0.3 ppm, respectively, these are extremely high levels," Endo said.
The standards are based on what is known as the provisional tolerable weekly intake of mercury. Prior to 2003, the international standard was 3.3 micrograms per kg of body weight per week. Based on these numbers, the government established provisional levels of total mercury in fish and shellfish at 0.4 ppm and methyl mercury at 0.3 ppm.
But taking into account the possible effects on pregnant women and children, the World Health Organization revised the 3.3 figure downward to 1.6 micrograms per kg of body weight per week in 2003. Japan, however, adopted a standard of 2.0 micrograms per kg of body weight per week, saying that as a fish-eating culture it is only natural its standard be slightly higher.
The tests on the 50 residents as well as the whale and dolphin meat findings have been made available to Wakayama Prefecture, which is now carrying out further tests. But although Taiji is now the center of international attention, Endo's studies on whale and dolphin meat showed that it was Okinawa, not Taiji, where the highest levels of mercury were found.
"In 2001, meat from a false killer whale that was being sold in Nago had 81 ppm of total mercury (mercury plus methyl mercury) present," Endo said.
Asked why the government doesn't do more to warn consumers of the possible dangers of eating whale and dolphin meat, such as putting warning labels on all meat sold, Endo says it's likely that officials simply don't see a problem.
"The official attitude is probably along the lines of because so few people eat dolphin and whale meat, and since they tend to be mostly older, it's not that big of an issue," he said.


Clip from the film "The Cove" about the finding of Mercury in Dolphin meat and how some of the dolphin meat was labeled as whale meat.

So you don't eat Dolphin, are you still at risk? Below is a table taken from the FDA website. You will see a number of different Fresh water and Salt water fish.

Taken From the The US FDA website.

Table 1. Fish and Shellfish With Highest Levels of Mercury
SHARK0.9880.8300.631ND4.540351FDA 1990-02
SWORDFISH0.9760.8600.510ND3.220618FDA 1990-04
TILEFISH (Gulf of Mexico)1.450N/AN/A0.6503.73060NMFS REPORT 1978

Table 2. Fish and Shellfish With Lower Levels of Mercury
CATFISH0.049ND0.084ND0.31423FDA 1990-04
COD0.0950.0870.080ND0.42039FDA 1990-04
CRAB 10.0600.0300.112ND0.61063FDA 1990-04
CRAWFISH0.0330.0350.012ND0.05144FDA 2002-04
CROAKER ATLANTIC (Atlantic)0.0720.0730.0360.0130.14835FDA 1990-03
FLATFISH 2*0.0450.0350.049ND0.18023FDA 1990-04
HADDOCK (Atlantic)0.0310.0410.021ND0.0414FDA 1990-02
HAKE0.014ND0.021ND0.0489FDA 1990-02
JACKSMELT0.1080.0600.1150.0400.50016FDA 1990-02
LOBSTER (Spiny)0.090.14ND0.279FDA SURVEY 1990-02
MACKEREL ATLANTIC (N.Atlantic)0.050N/AN/A0.0200.16080NMFS REPORT 1978
MACKEREL CHUB (Pacific)0.088N/AN/A0.0300.19030NMFS REPORT 1978
OYSTER0.013ND0.042ND0.25038FDA 1990-04
POLLOCK0.041ND0.106ND0.78062FDA 1990-04
SALMON (FRESH/FROZEN) *0.014ND0.041ND0.19034FDA 1990-02
SARDINE0.0160.0130.0070.0040.03529FDA 2002-04
SHRIMP *NDNDNDND0.05024FDA 1990-02
SQUID0.070N/AN/AND0.400200NMFS REPORT 1978
TILAPIA *0.010ND0.023ND0.0709FDA 1990-02
TROUT (FRESHWATER)0.0720.0250.143ND0.67834FDA 2002-04
TUNA (CANNED, LIGHT)0.1180.0750.119ND0.852347FDA 2002-04
WHITEFISH0.0690.0540.067ND0.31028FDA 2002-04

Table 3. Mercury Levels of Other Fish and Shellfish
BASS (SALTWATER, BLACK, STRIPED)30.2190.1300.227ND0.96047FDA 1990-04
BASS CHILEAN0.3860.3030.3640.0852.18040FDA 1990-04
BLUEFISH0.3370.3030.1270.1390.63452FDA 2002-04
CARP0. SURVEY 1990-02
CROAKER WHITE (Pacific)0.2870.2800.0690.1800.41015FDA 1990-03
GROUPER (ALL SPECIES)0.4650.4100.2930.0531.20543FDA 2002-04
HALIBUT0.2520.2000.233ND1.52046FDA 1990-04
LOBSTER (Species Unknown)0.1690.1820.089ND0.30916FDA 1991-2004
MACKEREL SPANISH (Gulf of Mexico)0.454N/AN/A0.0701.56066NMFS REPORT 1978
MACKEREL SPANISH (S. Atlantic)0.182N/AN/A0.0500.73043NMFS REPORT 1978
MARLIN *0.4850.3900.2370.1000.92016FDA 1990-02
MONKFISH0.180N/AN/A0.0201.02081NMFS REPORT 1978
ORANGE ROUGHY0.5540.5630.1480.2960.85549FDA 1990-04
PERCH (Freshwater)0.140.15ND0.315FDA SURVEY 1990-02
SHEEPSHEAD0.128N/AN/A0.0200.62559NMFS REPORT 1978
SKATE0.137N/AN/A0.0400.36056NMFS REPORT 1978
SNAPPER0.1890.1140.274ND1.36643FDA 2002-04
TILEFISH (Atlantic)0.1440.0990.1220.0420.53332FDA 2002-04
TUNA (CANNED, ALBACORE)0.3530.3390.126ND0.853399FDA 2002-04
TUNA(FRESH/FROZEN, ALL)0.3830.3220.269ND1.300228FDA 2002-04
TUNA (FRESH/FROZEN, ALBACORE)0.3570.3550.152ND0.82026FDA 2002-04
TUNA (FRESH/FROZEN, BIGEYE)0.6390.5600.1840.4101.04013FDA 2002-04
TUNA (FRESH/FROZEN, SKIPJACK)0.205N/A0.0780.2050.2602FDA 1993
TUNA (FRESH/FROZEN, YELLOWFIN)0.3250.2700.220ND1.07987FDA 2002-04
TUNA (FRESH/FROZEN, Species Unknown)0.4140.3390.316ND1.300100FDA 1991-2004
WEAKFISH (SEA TROUT)0.2560.1680.226ND0.74439FDA 2002-04

Source of data: FDA 1990-2004, "National Marine Fisheries Service Survey of Trace Elements in the Fishery Resource" Report 1978,
"The Occurrence of Mercury in the Fishery Resources of the Gulf of Mexico" Report 2000
Mercury was measured as Total Mercury except for species (*) when only Methylmercury was analyzed.
ND - mercury concentration below detection level (Level of Detection (LOD)=0.01ppm)
N/A - data not available
The following species have been removed from the tables:
  • Bass (freshwater) – not commercial
  • Pickerel – not commercial
‡ Standard deviation data generated for new data 2004 or later only.
1Includes: Blue, King, Snow
2Includes: Flounder, Plaice, Sole
3Includes: Sea bass/ Striped Bass/ Rockfish
NOTE: On February 8, 2006, technical changes were made to the data that was posted on January 19, 2006. The changes corrected data or more properly characterized the species of fish or shellfish sampled
 If you eat fish, I strongly suggest you be careful to what and how much you consume.It is easy for me (someone who does not eat fish), to say just stop eating it. Of course, I know that my views are my own, and I do not want to push them on anyone else. My goal is to educate people. Know the facts and make your own choice.  If you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, do not chance putting your unborn child at risk. And PLEASE limit your children's intake of any seafood. Make smart choices when eating any kind of fish. Also when looking at Mercury rates know that the level of mercury will differ from fish to fish.  The higher on the food chain, the larger the fish, and the older the fish, and the fishes environment can greatly play a role in the amount of mercury it may have.

*Peace to you and yours*

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