Title

Fish Consumption and Prenatal Mercury Exposure

Date of Award

3-13-2005

Document Type

Capstone Project

Disciplines

Environmental Policy And Management

Degree Name

Master of Environmental Policy And Management

Department

Environmental Policy And Management

Advisor

Harold Tyus

Keywords

EPA; Faroe Islands; FDA; Fish as food -- Contamination; Mercury -- Toxicology; Mercury in the body; methyl mercury; Methylmercury; Minamata; New Zealand; Seychelles

Abstract

Methyl mercury levels in fish tissues have recently become a health issue. Does this toxin adversely affect humans to the point that fish consumption should be severely limited? Health effects of high levels of mercury exposure to human adults are fairly well known, however the effects of lower levels of exposure on human fetal development are less understood. Recent guidelines issued by the United States Food and Drug Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency recommended that pregnant women should refrain from consuming some types of fish, and limit consumption to certain levels, but results of health studies used to develop recommendations were inconclusive when low levels of in-utero methyl mercury exposure were compared. Other studies demonstrated health benefits of fish consumption to developing fetuses. These health benefits may be an over-riding factor, and my interpretation of various studies concludes that restricted consumption of some fish species may be premature at this time due to a need to balance potential health benefits against mercury toxicity hazard.

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