Mercury in Tuna

Recent studies by the EPA and FDA have shown that high levels of mercury can be find in tuna and may be harmful to human health if consumed in large quantities. Tests have also shown for mercury levels to be much higher in white tuna than in any other types of tuna such as light tuna. Although the health scare is out, it still has not brought enough attention, awareness, or concern to have to pull tuna off of the shelves entirely. This is because the EPA has the power to pull tuna if tests show that mercury levels have reached at least 1 part per million (PPM). Fortunately, out of a survey of 42 tuna fish cans found in major metropolitan areas such as New York, a test was done to measure the amount of mercury levels in each one. The mercury levels found ranged from 0.018 to 0.774 creating an average of 0.427 PPM of mercury in each can.

Even though this level of mercury passed the EPA’s test, the EPA still encourages people not to consume more than one serving of tuna per week especially for younger women and children. Pregnant women have been recommended to avoid tuna entirely as it may be harmful to the child during the development stages. Methyl mercury accumulates in tuna as well as in other fish from coal fired power plants and other natural sources such as volcanoes. Once the mercury becomes contaminated in the fish it becomes extremely toxic for both the fish and the people that consume the fish.

Currently there is no real danger unless the amount of tuna contaminated with mercury is consumed in high quantities. To avoid harmful effects from eating tuna however ensure pregnant women avoid tuna fish entirely as well as limit the amount consumed by women in child bearing age and small children. While tuna fish may be a good source to receive Omega 3’s there is also a pill form option available on the market to ensure fatty acid levels remain at decent and healthy levels.

Every year the EPA and the FDA run annual tests to ensure the public that the levels of mercury in tuna fish are controlled. They also ensure the public that recalls of any tuna fish or other fish for that matter with the higher than recommended levels of tuna within them will start immediately once noticed.


“Mercury in Tuna Still a Concern, Consumer Report Says” By Kathleen Doheny

“Mercury in Canned Tuna still a Concern” Consumer Reports Magazine January 2011

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