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Rise in Mercury Levels in Supermarket Fish

Washington state Health Department survey reported an increased level of mercury in some halibut and Pacific red snapper sold at Washington supermarkets. // There were state wide tests conducted in the fish from grocery stores. They said that children and women of child-bearing age should eat only one meal a week of those two species. According to the Environmental Protection Agency guidelines the mercury contamination in the fishes has crossed dangerous levels.

Previously many studies have been undertaken by the state officials but it was mainly in the study of contamination in fishes found in rivers, lakes and marine waters. David E. McBride, a state toxicologist said that levels of mercury contamination in the supermarket fishes are analyzed to know the levels of contamination. State health officials state that the limits ordered by The Food and Drug Administration are too high.

James A. VanDerslice, a state Health Department epidemiologist said that fishes are good source of proteins and has to be included as a beneficial part of a regular diet. But the problem is that there are contaminants.

Glenn Reed, president of the Pacific Seafood Processors Association said that there is vast body of evidence that seafood is one of the healthiest proteins.

Increased level of mercury was found in canned albacore tuna, the subject of earlier federal warnings. The lowest levels of mercury were found in catfish, pollock, salmon, flounder and cod. Chinook or king salmon topped the list for PCBs, a long-banned chemical linked to cancer and impaired brain development. State health officials said the salmon PCB levels were too low to pose any danger to brain development if limited to two servings a week.

According to Robert M. Duff, director of the state Office of Environmental Health Assessments said that these guidelines were based on research on animals rather than on humans. In conclusion he said that further research has to be done to understand the effects of mercury on humans.


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