Research that helps us to better understand mercury concentrations in fish has potential benefits for all fish-consuming societies, but is particularly relevant here in Hawai'i where marine fish consumption is among the highest levels in the United States.
For example, the University of Hawai'i Pacific Biomedical Research Center recently found that women in Hawai'i are three times more likely to have elevated umbilical cord blood mercury levels compared with the national average. For this study group, there was a positive correlation between the cord blood mercury concentration and fish consumption, based on dietary surveys.
The main pathway for human exposure to methylmercury is the consumption of large predatory marine fish such as swordfish and tuna. Effects of methylmercury on humans can include damage to the central nervous system, the heart and the immune system. The developing brains of fetuses and young children are especially vulnerable.
"The results of our research allow us to determine which marine fish are likely to have lower mercury concentrations, and why mercury concentrations are higher in some fish compared to others," said Jeffrey Drazen, associate professor of oceanography at UH Manoa. "This research is exciting because it allows us to gather new insight about both the biogeochemistry of mercury and the ecology of animals living in Earth's largest habitatthe open ocean."
The new research findings also have important implications for estimating how mercury levels in marine fish might respond to future changes in mercury deposition to the ocean, especially in light of proposed international treaties on industria
|Contact: Talia S Ogliore|
University of Hawaii at Manoa