Study Finds Mercury in Fish Everywhere

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Photo by redjar/Flickr CC

My book, What to Eat, has a chapter on the mercury-in-fish dilemma. Do we follow dietary guidelines to eat more fish or do we worry about the amount of toxic methylmercury those fish might have?

The U.S. Geological Survey and Department of the Interior have just released a report that will not make this dilemma easier to resolve. Fish in every one of 291 streams sampled throughout the country are contaminated with mercury. According to the press release, the good (well, slightly better) news is that "only" a quarter of the samples exceeded federal guidelines for people eating average amounts of fish.

Where does the mercury come from? "Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury emissions in the United States--but 59 of the streams also were potentially affected by gold and mercury mining."

The remedy seems pretty obvious: let's insist that coal-burning power plants and mining operations clean up their emissions. How about right now!

Presented by

Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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