Tuna Mercury Levels May be Cause for Concern

Tuna Mercury Levels May be Cause for Concern

Tuna Mercury Levels May be Cause for Concern

New testing of mercury levels in canned and pouch tuna, completed by Consumer Reports on 42 samples from the New York City area, show that mercury levels are significantly high enough to cause health problems. White, or albacore tuna, also proved to regularly have more mercury in it than light tuna varieties.

Recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency limit light tuna intake for young women and children to 12 ounces each week, and 6 ounces of albacore tuna. Young women are at special risk for birth defects and other pregnancy complications from excessive levels of mercury. Tuna, especially white tuna, is the most common source of mercury in American’s diets.

The Consumers Union recommends even smaller weekly allowances of mercury containmenated fish like tuna. They recommend that pregnant women avoid the fish altogether, and small children weighing less than 45 pounds eat under 1.5 ounces of white tuna each week. Children over 45 pounds should not exceed 4 ounces of white tuna, according to their fish-safety experts.

None of the tuna samples tested for the Consumer Reports’ survey were free from mercury. Levels ranged from 0.018 to 0.774 parts per million, with light tuna reaching only a maximum level of 0.176 parts per million. Due to these levels of mercury, young children and women would exceed the EPA’s recommend mercury levels with less than half a can of tuna.

Previous Consumer Reports investigations into tuna mercury levels show that while most light tuna contains lower levels of the element, some samples contained as much as twice as much as regular white tuna. These variations in mercury levels make it much more difficult to make clear and easy to follow weekly limits for children and young women. High mercury levels can lead to birth defects, hearing impairment, learning disabilities and other serious health concerns.


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