Seafood and Sushi Lovers Can Now Check Mercury Levels on the Go

Shoppers and diners can use any cell phone web browser to enter their weight and fish choice to estimate low, moderate or high level dose of mercury based on U. S. government guidelines. The cell phone calculator compliments the GotMercury.Org web version. Fish consumption is the primary source of mercury exposure in the United States. In addition, AJR 57, introduced into the California legislature by Rep.Huffman on mercury-contaminated seafood passed this year and urges the federal Food and Drug Administration to take responsibility for, and take actions to reduce, the public’s exposure to mercury in seafood by taking specified actions.

New Book Documents Methyl Mercury Poisoning from Tuna and other Seafood

An important new book recently came out on exposure risks of methylmercury from high mercury fish consumption, Diagnosis:  Mercury; Money, Politics & Poison, by Jane M. Hightower, M.D. The book covers mercury exposure issues, lackadaisical oversight by courts of justice and government agencies, and seafood industry interference in public policy. A list of symptoms associated with mercury illness are summarized at the Diagnosis: Mercury website. “Dr. Hightower passionately argues that we still need numbers and hard facts; without them consumers cannot make appropriate informed choices. Hightower has worked long and hard on this fight to make the dangers of mercury public and this important new book highlights the long and lonely quest she has fought to help get us where we are today,” said U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, in support of the book.

U.S. Joins EU in Banning Mercury Exports; Environmentalists Applaud Bi-Partisan Effort

The U.S. just  joined the European Union in setting a date certain to ban their mercury exports, thereby reducing the supply of commodity mercury into the world market.  Environmental groups in the U.S.  and around the world applauded the broad bi-partisan support of the legislation.  “Neither mercury nor the fish we eat recognizes federal boundaries,” Linda Greer, Director of the Health Program at NRDC, said in a statement. “Passage of this legislation banning the export of mercury is a great victory for the health of people in America and all over the world.  It will curb the flow of mercury into global commerce, keeping it out of our tuna and other fish.”

In independent actions taken in late September, the EU adopted a mercury export ban that takes effect in 2011, while earlier this month Congress passed legislation to ban U.S. mercury exports by 2013.  U.S. President George Bush signed the legislation it into law yesterday.  The Mercury Export Ban Act, S. 906, prohibits the sale of mercury by the U.S. government, prohibits the transfer of elemental mercury by Federal agencies and requires the Department of Energy (DOE)  to designate and manage an elemental mercury long-term disposal facility.The U.S. and the EU are among the top exporters of commodity mercury. Between 40 and 50% of the estimated 3,800 metric tons of annual global trade in mercury passes through the EU and the U.S.

Elements for a UN Global Framework on Mercury

Public interest advocates welcomed the results of a global meeting convened to take decisions on the threats posed by mercury to human health and environment. On 6-10 October 2008, the 2nd UNEP Open Ended Working Group (OEWG2) on Mercury agreed on the elements that would form part of a global framework on mercury, in preparation for the UNEP Governing Council (GC) in February 2009, where it will be decided whether a global legally binding instrument on mercury will be developed.  The UNEP GC had given the mandate to the OEWG to review and assess options for enhanced voluntary measures and new or existing international legal instruments. The OEWG2 completed its work, and will send a report to the GC including:

  • A comprehensive set of elements to be part of a global framework
  • Two options for global frameworks on mercury – a legal and a voluntary one.
  • If a legal framework is agreed, it will be a free-standing instrument rather than being part of an existing framework.