Mercury found in every fish

Want to avoid mercury in your food? Just cut back on tuna, right? That’s not enough. A new federal study of mercury contamination found there’s a lot more fish in the sea—or 291 streams, in this case—with the neurotoxin in their bodies. In fact, mercury was detected in every one of the roughly thousand fish tested by the U.S. Geological Survey between 1998 and 2005. Just over a quarter of them had levels considered by the Environmental Protection Agency as being too high for people eating average amounts of fish. And more than two-thirds of the fish exceeded the EPA level of concern for fish-eating mammals.

Elevated levels of mercury were particularly noted in Western states affected by mining, with 59 of the streams potentially affected by gold and mercury mining. However the main source of mercury to these waterways is atmospheric mercury, with coal-fired power plants being the largest source in the United States. The highest levels of mercury in fish were found in streams in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Louisiana. High levels were also in the Northeast and Upper Midwest.

“This study shows just how widespread mercury pollution has become in our air, watersheds, and many of our fish in freshwater streams,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in a statement from the USGS. “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.”

Read the report at