Scientists pinpoint source of mercury in Pacific Ocean fish - 8 News NOW

Scientists pinpoint source of mercury in Pacific Ocean fish

Updated: Aug 26, 2013 10:06 AM
© Cade Martin / CDC / Dawn Arlotta © Cade Martin / CDC / Dawn Arlotta

MONDAY, Aug. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Levels of mercury in Pacific Ocean fish are likely to rise over coming decades, say researchers who report they've discovered how mercury gets into open-ocean fish.

They concluded that up to 80 percent of the toxic form of mercury (methylmercury) found in deep-feeding North Pacific fish is produced in the ocean's depths, probably by bacteria that cling to sinking bits of organic matter.

Researchers say they also confirmed that mercury found in fish near Hawaii likely traveled through the air for thousands of miles before being deposited in the ocean by rainfall. They noted that the North Pacific fisheries are downwind from rapidly industrializing nations such as China and India. These nations increasingly rely on coal-burning power plants, which are a major source of mercury pollution.

The study was published online Aug. 25 in the journal Nature Geoscience.

"This study reinforces the links between mercury emitted from Asian countries and the fish that we catch off Hawaii and consume in this country," study lead author Joel Blum, an environmental scientist at the University of Michigan, said in a university news release.

"The implications are that if we're going to effectively reduce the mercury concentrations in open-ocean fish, we're going to have to reduce global emissions of mercury, including emissions from places like China and India," Blum said. "Cleaning up our own shorelines is not going to be enough. This is a global atmospheric problem."

The main way that methylmercury gets into people is through eating large predatory fish such as swordfish and tuna. The health effects of methylmercury include damage to the central nervous system, the heart and the immune system, according to the release. The developing brains of fetuses and young children are particularly vulnerable.

The nine species of fish included in the study were: flying fish, mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna, skipjack tuna, moonfish (opah), bigeye tuna, swordfish, and two species of lantern fish.

More information

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has more about mercury in fish and shellfish.

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

  • Paula's Health NotesLas Vegas Health NewsMore>>

  • Study touts health care workers with less than bachelor's degree

    Study touts health care workers with less than bachelor's degree

    Thursday, July 24 2014 12:08 AM EDT2014-07-24 04:08:05 GMT
    Among Las Vegas workers with less than a bachelor’s degree only 3.5 percent hold jobs in the most common health care occupations, the lowest percentage among the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, the Brookings Institution reported Wednesday night.More>>
    Among Las Vegas workers with less than a bachelor’s degree only 3.5 percent hold jobs in the most common health care occupations, the lowest percentage among the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, the Brookings Institution reported Wednesday night.More>>
  • Breath test can test for illnesses

    Breath test can test for illnesses

    Monday, July 21 2014 3:00 PM EDT2014-07-21 19:00:17 GMT
    With most diseases, an early diagnosis means a better prognosis, but sometimes it's difficult, painful and expensive to test for illnesses. Now there's a new way to spot a variety of conditions and all it takes is a simple breath.More>>
    With most diseases, an early diagnosis means a better prognosis, but sometimes it's difficult, painful and expensive to test for illnesses. Now there's a new way to spot a variety of conditions and all it takes is a simple breath.More>>
  • Bariatric Surgery for Diabetes

    Bariatric Surgery for Diabetes

    Monday, July 21 2014 4:48 PM EDT2014-07-21 20:48:09 GMT
    Nearly 90 percent of people with type-two diabetes are obese and as more Americans gain weight, more will likely face a diabetes diagnosis. In fact, the American diabetes association predicts that one in three adults will have diabetes by the year 2050.More>>
    Nearly 90 percent of people with type-two diabetes are obese and as more Americans gain weight, more will likely face a diabetes diagnosis. In fact, the American diabetes association predicts that one in three adults will have diabetes by the year 2050.More>>
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KLAS. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.