Mercury in the Oceans
As my patients know, I have been very concerned about the increasing concentrations of mercury in the oceans, rivers, and lakes of the world. I see patients with increasingly large burdens of mercury. Even salmon, which is what I used to recommend that my patients eat, is now producing significant levels of mercury in my patient’s blood and total body load calculation.
Now a new study, published in Nature News has shown that humans have tripled the mercury levels in the open ocean since the Industrial Revolution.
A quote from the lead author of the article is:
“Study co-author Carl Lamborg, a marine geochemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, says that the deep water’s ability to sequester mercury may soon be exhausted. Humans are on track to emit as much mercury in the next 50 years as they did in the last 150 years, he notes.
He goes on to say, “You’re starting to overwhelm the ability of deep water formation to hide some of that mercury from us, with the net result that more and more of our emissions will be found in progressively shallower water. That increases the odds that mercury levels in key food species will rise, increasing humans’ exposure. ”
In addition, I do not think the scientists are measuring levels in people now as they say:
Between 5–10% of US women of childbearing age already have blood mercury levels that that increase the risk of neurodevelopmental problems in their children, and an estimated 1.5 million–2 million children are born in the European Union each year with mercury exposure levels associated with IQ deficits. Wildlife and marine life is not spared either. Studies have found that mercury levels compromise the reproductive health and fertility of some fish and birds”
I see very large levels in the blood of men and women who eat fish of almost any variety, especially in women of child bearing age eating the ubiquitous sushi!
New information is showing that Otters in Scotland are only living one third of the lifespan of those who are in mainland Europe because of poisoned seas.
Zoologist Dr Paul Yoxon says that “chemicals in everyday products are accumulating in fish and shellfish on which the mammals feed, weakening their immune systems.” He goes on to say that “Toxicology tests have shown that they have accumulated high levels of cadmium and mercury in their bodies from the fish they eat.”
For this reason the “otters are not living long enough to significantly ?expand the population further.”
Dr Yoxon goes on to say that “‘Another group of chemicals have now appeared in the environment – polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which are used as flame retardants in carpets, car seats and furnishings. These also accumulate in the environment and become concentrated in fish taken by otters, and can cause problems with the immune system.’’
So the question is what happens in humans who eat fish from this part of the world, if the otters are having trouble surviving at all with their chemical burden?
I used to tell my patients to eat Wild Alaskan Salmon which was very low in mercury. However, I am now seeing my patients who eat salmon-even just occasionally -still getting significant levels of mercury in their blood.
If these women then get pregnant, that mercury will be transmitted through the placenta into the fetus, thereby having an effect on the immune system, the endocrine system, and the nervous system of that baby. As I have shown in previous articles, Mercury is increasingly being linked by scientists as a contributor to the autism epidemic that we now have.
If you are eating salmon regularly, I encourage you to ask your doctor to get a blood mercury level. Make sure you are not getting too much mercury!
Oceana and Mercury
The environmental group Oceana is getting involved in the call to stop mercury pollution of our environment.
They are pointing out that “Mercury is a dangerous chemical finding its way into the oceans and the seafood we eat.”
“Mercury released into the environment from industrial sources ends up in our oceans, leading to seafood contamination. Because it builds up in wildlife through a process called bioaccumulation, animals high on the food chain carry the most mercury.”
In their article, it primarily focus on the large fish as having excessive mercury. They seem a little naïve to me that they are also not looking at the smaller fishes and their mercury load.
Oceana rightfully points out that “A handful of chlorine plants still use mercury in the chlorine manufacturing process. Not only has newer, mercury-free technology been around for decades but more than 100 factories globally have switched to the modern technology due to environmental reasons as well as increased energy savings.”
They have started a campaign to stop seafood contamination with mercury, and to encourage grocery stores to at least post the FDA’s mercury advice about how to avoid high mercury levels. At least this advice is a start. However it needs a major update, to show what I see as the increasing toxicity of fish contaminated with mercury.
Have you had your blood mercury level drawn recently?
The Mercury Policy Project
In my research for this week’s newsletter, I am delighted to have come across a new organization called the Mercury Policy Project which is organizing to create a “Zero Mercury Working Group”!
They have put out a new announcement , which I completely agree with
saying that “A new federal advisory promoting seafood fails to protect sensitive populations from methylmercury exposure, according to an analysis by Environmental Working Group and MPP
You can read here Five Things FDA and EPA Didn’t Tell You About Seafood Safety and get the full REPORT HERE
Lets stay in dialog about this ! Talk to me on Twitter !
Wishing you the best of health!