Re: “Mercury in the hair identifies this seafood lover” (Mary Ann Lindley, July 8)

Mary Ann Lindley has nothing to worry about. The mercury measured in her hair is still far below a level that might be a cause for legitimate health concern.

The government’s recommended standard for mercury in the human body has a generous built-in safety cushion of 1,000 percent. Lindley’s mercury measurement is actually less than 17 percent of the bottom end of the danger zone. Japanese women — who eat far more fish than their American counterparts — typically have mercury levels higher than Lindley’s. And based on published studies, they’re probably healthier in general.

Activist groups that sponsor mercury testing for high-profile public figures usually leave out information like this. They’re more interested in promoting scare stories than common sense. But the seafood in Lindley’s diet probably brought her significant health benefits without harming her in the least. Fish has always been a health food, and the current mercury panic won’t change that.