I’ve been obsessed with Jeremy Piven’s mercury poisoning since it was revealed that it came from eating too much fish. He’s eaten almost nothing but sushi for something like twenty years, and then last year collapsed during a Broadway performance.
In case you’re confused, Jeremy Piven is an actor best known for his role as a Hollywood agent in HBO’s “Entourage.”
Mercury levels in fish are a direct result of industrialization, particularly coal-burning industries. We burn the coal and send the pollutants high into the air, where they are carried by the wind and clouds to even the most pristine places on the earth. When this acid rain falls on the oceans, the mercury is absorbed by the kelp and other sea vegetables. The small fish eat the seaweed, the bigger fish eat the smaller fish, and the biggest, longest-living predator fish, like tuna, accumulate all the mercury ingested by their prey. Since mercury is bio-accumulative, the levels in tuna just keep getting higher the longer they live.
Seafood Watch, a service run out of the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, is a great resource to learn not only about which fish are safe to eat but also which we should avoid eating due to over-fishing. They even have handy little pocket guides to print out and carry in your wallet to refer to in restaurants or when grocery shopping.
The most current guidelines about safely eating contaminated fish can be found at the Environmental Defense Fund’s “Seafood Selector” site and the USDA’s General Eating Guidelines for seafood and fish.