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Tag: mercury levels in tuna

Mercury Poisoning

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.

Jeremy Piven discusses his mercury poisoning on Letterman.

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.

EWG exposes FDA plan to push mercury-laced seafood

Last Friday, December 12, the Environmental Working Group made public internal government documents disclosing the Food and Drug Administration’s secret plans to reverse federal warnings that pregnant women and children limit their fish intake to avoid mercury, a neurotoxin especially dangerous to the fetus and infants. EWG obtained both the FDA plan, stamped “CLOSE HOLD,” and memos by senior Environmental Protection Agency scientists attacking FDA’s rationale. The Washington Post broke the story, and other national stories followed.

Reaction from Capitol Hill was swift and sharp. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT., denounced the FDA: “Now, in the administration’s 11th hour, they are quietly trying to water down advisories for women and children about the dangers of mercury in fish, disregarding sound science on this issue. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin capable of impairing childhood development at very low levels.”

Once again, instead of addressing the cause of the mercury that’s contaminating our food we’re going to change the health guidelines to prop up the fishing industry and continue to sell tainted fish to unsuspecting consumers.

And you thought the current administration was done dismantling of policies ennacted to safeguard our food, water, air, and environmental health? No, we will be unraveling the adverse effects for decades to come. Let’s watch what else they try to do in the dusk of their power.

George W. speaks a lot about his legacy and the sale of the health of our nation and of the planet to the industries with the best lobbyists — when we knew better — will certainly be listed among his most wondrous accomplishments.

Will Clean Coal Technology Save the Tuna Fish?

Psst! Wanna see what clean-coal technology really looks like? A brand new Reality ad campaign is ready to debunk the myth of “clean coal” from the coal industry.

Environmental experts agree that coal is the dirtiest fuel America uses to produce electricity. The Reality Coalition, a joint project of the Sierra Club, Alliance for Climate Protection, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, and National Wildlife Federation, is challenging the coal industry to come clean in its advertising and in its operations.

607-lb. blue fin tuna

Coal burning plants not only cause visible air pollution in our urban areas, but the toxic particulates fall to earth in the form of acid rain, polluting our crops and waterways, not to mention the oceans. You’ve heard about rising mercury levels in tuna fish? Near the top of the food chain as predator fish, tuna ingest lots of little fish that have eaten tainted plants and smaller sea organisms. The mercury is bio-accumulative and builds up through the long lifetime of the tuna (up to 30 years or longer).

Almost 35% of the mercury consumed in the U.S. comes from tuna.

What kills me is that our response to the rising mercury levels has been to issue voluntary guidelines as to how frequently we eat tuna fish. These warnings are especially stringent for pregnant women and children, where the developing brains are at the most risk for permanent damage from mercury exposure.

Personally, I would rather see more efforts focused on reducing the toxification of our oceans by industrial pollutants instead of idly watching the mercury levels rise in fish and the oceanic dead zones where nothing can live, grow. Would someone please remind the remaining schools of tuna of the reasons behind snubbing the Kyoto Treaty?

Have we been hoodwinked by the coal industry into believing this fossil fuel can ever be a clean energy solution for our future? Does clean coal technology really exist, or is it an oxymoron?

Here’s the Reality Coalition’s clean coal technology message.