Scaring expectant mothers away from the health benefits of fish through overblown warning labels is irresponsible, and indicates a serious misunderstanding of science (“Mercury warning signs would help fish buyers,” Gathering Place, Jan. 31). The FDA’s “limit” for mercury already has a ten-fold margin of safety built in. This means Hawaii residents — pregnant women included — would have to exceed it 10 times over before worrying about theoretical health risks.
It’s customary for government regulators to add safety factors to health advisories, and it’s sensible to do so when we’re talking about lead in paint or cyanide in our drinking water. But fish is a healthy food. In 2005 a team of Harvard researchers found that overreacting to government health advisories (and eating less fish) is a greater health risk than anything we have to fear from mercury.
More than a dozen big-budget environmental groups — including the Turtle Island Restoration Network — are needlessly scaring Americans with wild tales of fish-related mercury poisoning. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, absolutely zero Americans have enough mercury in their bodies to constitute a real health concern. Consumers can visit www.fishscam.com. for this much-needed perspective.