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Mad as a Hatter?

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  • isenhart7
    http://pbs.org/now/science/mercuryinfish.html Mercury in Fish In America one-in-six children born every year have been exposed to mercury levels so high that
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 18, 2006
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      Mercury in Fish

      In America one-in-six children born every year have been
      exposed to mercury levels so high that they are potentially at risk
      for learning disabilities and motor skill impairment and
      short-term memory loss. That type of mercury exposure is
      caused by eating certain kinds of fish, which contain high levels
      of the toxin from both natural and man-made sources such as
      emissions from coal-fired power plants. One government
      analysis shows that 630,000 children each year are exposed to
      potentially unsafe mercury levels in the womb. If the government
      and its scientists know about the mercury problem, why do so
      many people continue to be poisoned?

      Over recent years NOW has examined how the influence of the
      tuna industry on the FDA may be putting Americans and their
      children at risk for mercury poisoning. Tuna, widely known for its
      health benefits, is one of the most popular foods on grocery
      store shelves. And, in 2000, FDA draft advisories presented to
      focus groups warned women not to eat a lot of canned tuna
      during pregnancy because it contains levels of mercury that can
      harm developing fetuses and nursing babies. In March 2004, the
      FDA and the EPA issued the first ever joint advisory on this topic,
      What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish.

      The State of California has gone a step further. In 2003 the
      California Attorney General's office filed suit to force
      supermarkets, restaurants and tuna companies to warn
      customers that tuna (fresh, frozen and canned), swordfish and
      shark sold in their markets contain mercury. The suit was based
      on the state's Proposition 65 which requires consumer warnings
      for substances on a toxics list. The state also provided special
      warnings advising women and children to "Limit their
      consumption of other fish, including tuna." And they further
      advised that "tuna steaks and canned albacore have higher
      levels of mercury than canned light."

      In January 2005, 16 major restaurant chains sued by the state
      agreed to settle and put up warnings. And a few supermarkets
      have voluntarily posted them at fresh fish counters and in the
      frozen food section. The US Tuna Foundation is challenging the
      lawsuit saying "canned tuna products are safe…." Citing the
      above-mentioned mercury advisory by the Food And Drug
      Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency that
      states "fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet."
      Find about more about mercury in fish below.

      Nearly all fish contain trace amounts of methylmercury. How
      does this element get into our fish supply? Mercury occurs both
      naturally and from man-made sources. Some of it can be traced
      to coal-burning power plants. Smokestacks release toxic
      mercury emissions which rain down into rivers, lakes, and
      oceans. Bacteria convert the mercury to a form that's easily
      absorbed by insects and other small organisms. Mercury moves
      up the food chain as small fish eat the small organisms and big
      fish eat the smaller fish. The highest concentrations accumulate
      in large predators such as shark, swordfish and tuna...some of
      America's favorite fish.

      Pregnant women, nursing mothers, and very young children are
      cautioned against excessive consumption of these fish. Read
      the FDA consumer advisory for pregnant women about the risks
      of mercury in fish. The FDA also offers a chart on mercury levels
      in seafood species.

      Until the 1950's, the problems that can occur with excessive
      mercury intake were not well-known. However, at that time, an
      epidemic hit fishermen and their families in villages on Japan's
      Minamata Bay. People whose diet was primarily seafood
      showed signs of brain damage; some were even fatally stricken
      with disease and seizures. The investigation linked the health
      problems to methylmercury poisoning from a local chemical
      plant that was discharging organic mercury into the bay. The
      villagers were getting sick from eating the fish that had absorbed
      the mercury. (Learn more about The Poisoning of Minamata.)

      In 1969, the FDA first set an action level for total mercury in fish;
      0.5ppm (part-per-million) was considered the maximum safe
      limit. (Action levels represent the limit at or above which FDA will
      take legal action to remove a product from the market.) In 1979,
      the action level was raised to 1ppm. In 1984, there was another
      major change. The FDA stopped measuring on a basis of total
      mercury and instead started checking levels in terms of
      methylmercury only. In 1998, the FDA stopped widely testing for
      mercury in fish.

      Around the world, there is concern about mercury contamination
      through fish, but specific recommendations vary. For example,
      Health Canada advises consumers to limit their consumption of
      swordfish, shark or fresh and frozen tuna to one meal per week;
      for young children and women of child-bearing age, the
      recommended limit is one meal per month. Health Canada's
      guideline is 0.5ppm total mercury content — more stringent than
      in the U.S. Britain's Food Standards Agency is advising pregnant
      and breastfeeding women and women who intend to become
      pregnant to limit their consumption of tuna to no more than two
      medium-size cans or one fresh tuna steak per week.

      Even within the United States, women are hearing different
      advice from different sources, especially where tuna is
      concerned. The EPA's methylmercury guideline is a
      recommended limit on mercury consumption based on
      bodyweight, also known as a "reference dose." EPA's
      methylmercury reference dose is .1 micrograms/kg body weight
      per day. In July 2000, the National Academy of Sciences found
      the EPA's reference dose as "scientifically justifiable" for
      protecting most Americans.

      So exactly how much mercury a 45 lb. child would ingest by
      eating one 6 ounce can of tuna per week, and how does that
      compare to the EPA's reference dose? Take a look at the
      following calculations:

      LB CHILD

      * Multiply child's body weight by EPA's reference dose.
      * Convert 45 pounds to kilograms = 20.45 kilograms
      * 20.45 kilograms x .1 micrograms per kilogram per day
      EPA RECOMMENDED LEVEL = 2.05 micrograms per day =
      14.35 micrograms per week.


      * Multiply amount of fish by average mercury level for chunk white
      * Convert 6 ounces to grams = 170 grams 170 grams X .31 ppm 
      (or micrograms per gram)**
      MERCURY INGESTED = 52.7 micrograms per gram  


      * Divide 52.7 micrograms by 14.35 micrograms = 3.7


      In December 2003, the FDA began circulating a draft advisory
      warning women who are pregnant, nursing, or who might
      become pregnant about the dangers of mercury in seafood.
      Critics like the Environmental Working Group objected to the
      advisory's vague guidance on tuna, and subsequently filed a
      legal challenge, charging that the advisory did not meet
      standards for accurate government science established by the
      Data Quality Act.

      In February 2004, a new analysis by the Environmental
      Protection Agency revealed that "about 630,000 children are born
      each year at risk for lowered intelligence and learning problems
      caused by exposure to high levels of mercury in the womb,"
      nearly double the previous EPA estimate.

      Read more about mercury and tuna from the Mercury Policy
      Project and from the U.S. Tuna Foundation.

      Also, the Sea Turtle Restoration Project Mercury Calculator
      allows users to gauge mercury exposure from seafood by
      entering a log of how much fish they consume.

      **Average for Chunk White Canned Tuna. Yess, Norma J. "US
      Food and Drug Administration Survey of Methyl Mercury in
      Canned Tuna," Journal of AOAC International, Vol. 76, No. 1,
      1993, pp. 36-38.


      I studied with Hanna Kroger for many years. Hanna owned the
      first health food store in Boulder where Mo Segel sold herbs that
      he had collected for tea. And this was the humble beginning of
      the Celestial Seasonings Tea Company. I always felt Hanna
      was a kindred spirit but when I opened one of her little books
      today, this one entitled, "God Helps Those who Help
      Themselves," I read the dedication from 1984:

      "I dedicate this book to the protector of America, St. Michael, and
      to his Army of Torchbearers."

      I wonder how many more such dedicated individuals might be
      out there?

      Hanna was a prolific author and wrote on Lead as a factor in the
      downfall of Rome and the Sim40 polio vaccination as being a
      major detriment to (the death of) the "sixties generation" and
      countless more topics. Here is a little on what she has to say
      about mercury:

      Ethyl and methyl compounds of mercury are used for fungal
      diseases of cereals and grain. These compounds have an
      affinity for the central nervous system and produce:

      General ataxia
      Loss of hearing, deafness
      Eczema, allergy
      Progressive visual deterioration
      Suicidal tendency
      Loss of coordination
      Anxiety, mental depression
      Loss of memory
      Coma and death

      Symptoms of chronic mercury poisoning include:

      Excessive salivation and metallic taste.
      A blue line develops above the gingival margin.
      Gums become hypertrophied, bl;eed easily, and are sore.
      Teeth become loose.
      Tremors of eyelids, lips, tongue, fingers and extremities.
      Course, jerky movements and gross incoordination interfere with
      fine movements such as writing and eating.
      Atrophy of the cerebellar cortex and, to a lessor extent, of the
      cerebral cortex occurs.
      Microscopic changes occur in the granular layer of the
      cerebellum, ganglion cells and posterior columns.

      Children exposed to toxic amounts of lead and other metal
      pollutants are subject to severe behavioral disorders resulting
      from damage to the central nervous system (Byers and Lord,
      1943: Pfeiffer, 1977). It remaind to be determined if sub-toxic
      metal levels are an etiologic agent in behavioral disorders,
      Sub-toxic lead levels previously thought harmless are now being
      associated with hyperactivity, impulsiveness, short attention
      span and immaturity. Recent nurochemical studies of Dr.
      Silbergeld and Houshka (1980) showed that lead and mercury
      are potent neurotoxins. Their effects are demonstrated in the
      neuronal system by using tests with acetylcholine,
      catecholamines and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) as
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