Tuna: The Mercury Reservoir

Tuna: The Mercury Reservoir


By baka komla | 15/02/2018 | 17:13

The consumption of fish and seafood exposes to high levels of mercury, a metal that is dangerous to health if it is absorbed in high doses. Tuna is one of the fish most implicated in human mercury contamination.

Attention, mercury. The majority of seafood products (fish, crustaceans, shellfish) contain high levels of methylmercury, a neurotoxic molecule that is the main source of mercury contamination in humans. According to researchers in engineering and environmental science at Harvard University (USA), tuna is the fish responsible for most of the methylmercury uptake in the US population. They publish their study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives

Predatory fish among the most consumed
These researchers estimated the geographical origins of seafood consumed in the United States and the environmental exposure of these areas to methylmercury. According to them, 37% of the exposure to methylmercury in the United States comes from tuna, 10% from shrimp , 5% from black locust, catfish, and freshwater flatfish and 4% from salmon. The first place of tuna is first of all due to the fact that this fish is a great predator that consumes itself small fish contaminated with mercury. It, therefore, contains more mercury than small fish that eat algae or plankton, says the World Health Organization (WHO) on its website. In addition, "canned tuna is the most fish consumed in the United States", according to the Harvard Gazette website, and "even if the overall consumption of tuna is down compared to previous decades [...] exposure to methylmercury is rising because, more people are consuming it in the form of sushi "deplores the official website of the university.

Risks of neurological disorders
In April 2016, the magazine 60 million consumers alerted on the presence of metals such as mercury, but also lead, cadmium, arsenic, chromium, and tin, in canned tuna marketed for instance in France. At high doses, absorption of these metals could be dangerous for the nervous system and cause neurological disorders , according to the National Agency for Food Safety, Environment, and Labor (ANSES, France). To limit the risks, nutritionist dietitian Alexandra Retion advised us not to consume more than one tuna can of 140 grams per week.

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