Mercury Policy Project

Promoting policies to eliminate mercury use and reduce mercury exposure

Mercury is Global Health Concern Warranting Immediate UN Action

February 10th, 2009

As the world’s governments convene next week to discuss developing  a legally binding treaty on mercury, over twenty groups from around the world have co-released a new MPP report calling attention to the global human health hazards caused by  mercury  in fish and fish-eating marine mammals. The study, released by the international Zero Mercury Working Group, indicates that the health impacts of methylmercury in fish and fish-eating marine mammals are substantial, and demand an effective response from governments and the United Nations.  “Mercury contamination of fish and mammals is a global public health concern,” said MPP Director Bender. “Our study of fish tested in different locations around the world shows that widely accepted international exposure levels for methylmercury are exceeded, often by wide margins, in each country and area covered.”

According to the report, “Mercury in Fish: An Urgent Global Health Concern” (11MB), the risk is greatest for populations whose per capita fish consumption is high, and in areas where pollution has elevated the average mercury content of fish. But methylmercury hazards also exist where per capita fish consumption and average mercury levels in fish are comparatively low. In cultures where fish-eating marine mammals are part of the traditional diet, mercury in these animals can add substantially to total dietary exposure. For additional information, see www.zeromercury.org.

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