On behalf of CSPI and MPP, Earthjustice recently filed a lawsuit in federal court against FDA for failing to respond to our 2011 petition requesting the Agency to give consumers clear, accurate and accessible information about mercury in seafood (as recent press reports explain.) The lawsuit seeks a court-ordered deadline since under its own regulations, FDA had 180 days to respond and its failure to do so violates federal law. In 2004, FDA acknowledged MeHg exposure risks when it issued an online advisory based on now outdated research. Several recent studies suggest adverse effects at exposure levels 10-fold lower than those considered acceptable a decade ago.
Climate change may be magnifying the mercury content of the polar bears’ diet. A recently study, “Stable Isotope Food-web Analysis and Mercury Biomagnification in Polar Bears” shows that polar bears eat from two distinct food webs, one the ice algae-based web and the other ocean’s phytoplankton-based food web. As climate change shrinks the polar ice, polar bears face increased dependency on their other food source, the mercury-laden marine fish and animals.
The U.S. EPA and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry have launched a new campaign to warn children about the dangers of playing with elemental mercury. To reach its intended audience, the video “Don’t Mess with Mercury” is being announced on Twitter and posted to You Tube. Spilt elemental mercury can break into microscopic beads that are invisible to the eye but continue to release odorless toxic vapors. Attempts to vacuum or sweep a mercury spill can create approximately 10 times more hazardous mercury vapors than cleaning it properly.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched a new Web site at to help children and their parents choose the healthiest fish to eat, using interactive stories and games. Whether they catch their own fish or buy it at a store, children and their parents can use the Web site to learn how to select fish that are low in contaminants. The Web site includes stories focusing on different methods of obtaining fish, along with interactive games, to teach children ages 8-12 how to recognize common fish species and use fish advisories. The site can be viewed at: www.epa.gov/fishadvisories/kids/