Warning that eating ‘ahi tuna can expose Hawai’i residents to mercury levels above “the EPA’s recommended limit” is irresponsible and indicates a serious misunderstanding of science (” ‘Ahi mercury levels higher than thought, FDA says,” Jan. 24).
The EPA’s “limit” for mercury has a tenfold margin of safety built-in. This means we would have to exceed it 10 times over before worrying about theoretical health risks from trace amounts of mercury in fish.
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.
Over 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.