The Register’s report (“Testing shows many Gulf fish are low in mercury contamination,” Feb. 1) on the mercury levels of some Gulf of Mexico fish tested by the environmental group Oceana says that “a single bite of a fish contaminated at those levels could put a grown man over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s monthly consumption limit for mercury.” This is simply not true.
First, the EPA doesn’t have consumption limits for mercury. Neither does the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has something called an “action level” for the mercury in fish, and the EPA has a “reference dose” for mercury in human blood or hair.
These levels are merely government advice, not “consumption limits.” And they both have 1,000-percent safety factors built in. You would literally have to exceed them 10 times over before justifiably worrying about your health.
Oceana is reporting that the highest-mercury fish it found had a level of less than 4 parts per million. That’s still 250 percent lower than a level that would be worth worrying about. And even if you were to eat healthy portions of such fish, any theoretical health damage would take a lifetime to accumulate.