Groups Release New Report on Mercury in Fish


April Forristall, assistant editor

Published on
February 12, 2009

A new report calling attention to global human health hazards caused by mercury in fish and fish-eating marine mammals was released this week.

“Mercury in Fish: An Urgent Global Health Concern,” coincides with next week’s United Nations’ international mercury conference in Nairobi, Kenya, to discuss developing a legally binding treaty on mercury.

Citizens’ groups Zero Mercury Working Group and the Mercury Policy Project developed the report, which demands an effective response from governments and the UN.

The report features new test data on mercury levels in fish from India, the Philippines and Europe, with the situation in India being the most severe, and also reviews data on mercury levels in pilot whales and other marine mammals consumed by Arctic populations in the Faroe Islands and among the Inuit of northern Canada.

“Mercury contamination of fish and mammals is a global public health concern,” said Michael Bender, the report’s co-author and member of the Zero Mercury Working Group. “Our study of fish tested in different locations around the world shows that internationally accepted exposure levels for methylmercury are exceeded, often by wide margins, in each country and area covered.”

The groups also recommend actions for risk assessment and risk communication, including the adoption of a global, legally binding instrument on mercury pollution and a collaborative effort by the UN’s Environment Program and the World Health Organization to expand surveys of mercury levels in fish worldwide.

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