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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 171



Thoughts: Is there mercury in the fish? There is mercury in all fish.

In spite of the health benefits provided by omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils, people are decreasing fish in their diets due to high levels of mercury found in some fish. Elevated levels of Mercury, a toxin affecting cognitive development in unborn children, is being found in many species of fish raising health concerns from eating mercury laden fish. In America one-in-six children born every year have been exposed to mercury levels so high that they are potentially at risk for learning disabilities and motor skill impairment and short-term memory loss.

What is mercury?
Mercury is a naturally occurring metal, which has several forms. The metallic mercury is a shiny, silver-white odorless liquid. This is the type of mercury used in thermometers. If heated, it is a colorless, odorless gas.

It is a metal found in various forms such as volcanoes, undersea vents, forest fires, and weathering of rocks all release it. It has been identified on the sun as well as in meteorites and moon rocks. Since mercury is an element, it is not biodegradable. Once it enters the environment, it stays there. There are three forms of mercury that exist today. The silver mercury found in thermometers, barometers, batteries, and dental fillings is metallic mercury. It is also used in gold mining and the production of chlorine gas. It stays liquid at normal temperatures but evaporates when exposed to atmosphere. From there, it can return to the soil and water through precipitation. Mercury combined with non-carbon elements such as chlorine, sulfur, and oxygen is called inorganic mercurials. This type of mercury is used in some skin-lightening creams, topical antiseptics, disinfectants, and antibacterials. Lastly, mercury that combines with carbon is organic mercury. It is the organic form, methylmercury, which has led to the fish consumption warnings.

Mercury is what was in my immunisation that the doctor told me if I got pregnant within 3 months I would have to get an abortion. Mercury is what is believed to be the cause of autism. (Read my blog Day 163 on mercury in vaccinations)

One government analysis shows that 630,000 children each year are exposed to potentially unsafe mercury levels in the womb. If the government and its scientists know about the mercury problem, why do so many people continue to be poisoned?

What happens to mercury when it enters the environment?
Methylmercury builds up in the tissues of fish. Larger and older fish tend to have the highest levels of mercury. People can breathe in small amounts of mercury metallic if a spill occurs at home or at work.

Why is there mercury in the fish?Primarily it's due to contaminents in bodies of water, whether in oceans, lakes, streams, etc. The majority of this pollution comes from manufacturing or agricultural industries either through dumping contaminents illegally or through the process of run-off, i.e. crop dusting plans spray crop fields with herbicides and the chemicals drain into lakes, streams, etc after it rains. From a manufacturing standpoint, the Mercury is released through smoke stacks, and when it rains, the rain carries the Mercury into the lakes, streams, oceans, etc.

Bacteria convert the Mercury into a form that is easily absorbed by small insects and other organisms. When fish eat these, they absorb the Mercury. When a bigger fish eats a smaller fish, it absorbs it's Mercury as well and this is how it moves up the food chain to humans.

What areas of the world are affected?
The entire world. There is not one place, not one fish and not one ocean that does not contain mercury. The study, conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, tested fish from nearly 300 streams across the country for traces of mercury, and found that every sampled fish contained the substance.

What about farm raised fish?
Farmed fish have more problems. Not only do they contain mercury, the conditions in which fish are farmed may be the reason infections such as columnaris disease are becoming increasingly virulent, as aquaculture creates selective pressures that encourage the most lethal strains of disease to thrive. That is the conclusion of a 23-year study conducted at a fish farm in Finland. According to the research, led by Dr Katja Pulkkinen of the University of Jyväskylä and published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, the high density of fish, the stress of the animals and even the treatment administered to them have acted as selective pressures favouring the more virulent strains of the pathogens.Columnaris disease, caused by the bacterium Flavobacterium columnare, leads to skin lesions, fin erosion and gill necrosis and has become a serious problem in aquaculture. In the US, it is one of the biggest causes of death in farmed catfish, costing the industry millions of dollars a year.


What are the effects of mercury on my body?
The nervous system is very sensitive to all forms of mercury. Methylmercury and metallic mercury vapors are more harmful than other forms, because more mercury in these forms reaches the brain. Mercury in the mother’s body passes to the fetus and may accumulate there. Very young children are more sensitive to mercury than adults. Exposures to high levels of mercury can permanently damage adult organs, including the brain, kidneys, and a developing fetus. Effects on brain function in adults may result in irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems.

How do you tell if mercury is present in fish?
Mercury is odorless and colorless. There is no way to clean or remove mercury. It can’t be cut, cleaned or cooked out.

If I shop at a fish market, how do I know if the fish sold there are safe to eat?
Most fish contains safe levels of mercury, however, pregnant, nursing, women planning a pregnancy in the next year and small children should not eat:

•Swordfish
•Shark
•Bluefish
•Striped Bass
•Freshwater fish caught in RI (other than trout caught in stocked waters.)
•Tile Fish and King Mackerel (Although not regularly caught or consumed in Rhode Island, these species are included in FDA Advisory.)
What fish are safe to eat?

Is there a way of measuring mercury in a fish? What level, if any, is safe?

The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA has collected fish and sent them to a laboratory for analysis. This analysis is costly and takes time. (If you wanted to analyze the fish you bought, by the time you got the results back your fish would be too old to eat). RI adopted the EPA Ambient Water Quality Criteria of 0.3 parts per million (ppm). Fish found to have this amount of mercury or less in them are deemed "safe".

Is there a medical test to show whether I’ve been exposed to mercury?
Tests can measure mercury levels in the body. Consult your doctor or other health care provider to see if this is right for you.

How long has there been mercury in fish?
The Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings about mercury in swordfish since 1986. The problems of mercury in fresh water fish were discovered more recently.

Have humans have artificially raised the levels of mercury?
Mining and industrial applications of mercury have increased significantly since the Industrial Revolution. Due to its ability to conduct electricity, measure pressure, act as a biocide, preservative, and disinfectant, mercury has become a commodity. During coal combustion, two forms of mercury are released: oxidized (ionic) mercury and elemental mercury. Mercury originally produced in one area can deposit in another country or region.

What about fish sticks and fast food sandwiches?
Fish sticks and "fast-food" sandwiches are commonly made from fish that are high in mercury.

Should I eat fish at all?
You make your own mind up after reading this statement from the worlds richest, billion dollar company, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), "Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet. Fish and shellfish contain high-quality protein and other essential nutrients, are low in saturated fat, and contain omega-3 fatty acids. A well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish can contribute to heart health and children's proper growth and development. So, women and young children in particular should include fish or shellfish in their diets due to the many nutritional benefits. However, nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury."

Is There Mercury In Fish Oil Capsules?
A study published in 2005 in the Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, concluded that fish oil capsules may be indeed safer than fish meals when it comes to mercury pollution.

Do companies purify their fish oil?
Companies use purification methods such as molecular distillation to ensure that their fish oil has been purified from environmental contaminants. And many are independently certified safe from the point of view of having safe levels of mercury, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and other compounds.

Will our fish ever be mercury-free?
“This science sends a clear message that our country must continue to confront pollution, restore our nation’s waterways, and protect the public from potential health dangers,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement. So unless the Earth has a huge transformation and reduce pollution, machinery, factories, then no.

An article I saw on the net today:

The country continues to fish at-risk species that its population doesn't even want to eat:
Over the past few weeks, Japan has once again been spotlighted as a great villain of sustainable fishing. "The Cove," the documentary about illegal dolphin fishing off the Japanese coast, won the Academy Award for best documentary. Its producers staged a sting on a Los Angeles Japanese restaurant that served illegal whale meat (the restaurant has now been closed). And now Japan has managed to keep a proposed international trade ban on the Atlantic bluefin tuna from being passed at a United Nations conference in Doha, Qatar.

The bluefin, which can grow up to 150 pounds, is widely believed to be in danger of extinction -- its population currently hovers at about 15 percent of its historical size. Last week's attempt to protect the fish pitted the United States and the European Union against Japan, which, according to the Times of London, managed to convince enough countries of the potential economic dangers of a ban to keep the motion from going through. (Japan consumes 80 percent of the world's bluefin tuna catch, largely as sushi and sashimi.)To read the full article go to www.salon.com

http://www.health.ri.gov/environment/risk/fish_faq.php
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_is_there_mercury_in_fish
http://environmentalchemistry.com/yogi/environmental/200511mercuryvsomega-3fattyacids.html
http://www.fda.gov/food/foodsafety/product-specificinformation/seafood/foodbornepathogenscontaminants/methylmercury/ucm115662.htm
http://www.pbs.org/now/science/mercuryinfish.html
http://www.ktradionetwork.com/tag/fish/page/2/
http://www.salon.com/life/sustainable_food/index.html?story=/food/feature/2010/04/26/usda_testing_end_local_meat
http://theearthdiet.blogspot.com/2010/04/day-163_13.html

Challenges: There's so much pollution in the air now that if it weren't for our lungs there'd be no place to put it all. ~Robert Orben

Triumphs: Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth. ~Henry David Thoreau

What I Ate Today:

Breakfast: Water with lemon squeezed in it. A apple. A cucumber.

Lunch: Salad, green lettuce, spinach and avocado.

Dinner: Eggplant dish. Recipe below!

Dessert: Chocolate balls!

Snacks: Chocolate balls!

Recipe: Recipe for chocolate balls in blog day 115.

Eggplant Recipe:

1. Chop into pieces, brocoli, eggplant, zuchinni, garlic, chilli, and tomato.
2.Fry zuchinni and garlic in the olive oil until it has absorbed the oil (you can also use macadamia oil, coconut oil and avocado oil).
3. Add the rest of the vegetables and turn heat off and put lid on fry pan. This wil steam th vegetables and flavour together. Add fresh basil.
4. Serve mmm mmm


Exercise: Went for a walk to the library today to hire the film "Ghandi" and a walk to the post office to send mothers day cards!

194 days to go!!!

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