U.S. Mercury Standard Among Worst in World

For Immediate Release: 
Friday, June 27, 2003

A joint UN - WHO expert food committee has just recommended a new international standard for mercury in seafood that continues to allow a dangerous mercury exposure level, and is particularly threatening to infant children whose developing brains may be exposed to twice the amount of mercury that the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. EPA consider safe.

The developing world, where the UN — WHO standard is widely followed, will now be “protected” by a standard that is better than the outdated, unscientific U.S. standard (which mirrors the old UN — WHO standard), but would still allow twice the mercury considered safe by most American health officials.

The UN — WHO committee was directed by U.S. FDA’s Michael Bolger — the controversial bureaucrat who, at the behest of the U.S. tuna industry, is responsible for leaving U.S. consumers with what is now the weakest mercury safety standard in the world.

The U.S. EPA allows 0.1 of mercury per kilogram body weight per day, a standard that is supported by the National Academy of Sciences, but applies only to recreationally caught fish. The FDA allows 0.4 micrograms of mercury per kilogram. The new UN - WHO recommendation would allow 0.2.

Mercury from coal-burning power plants pollutes oceans and contaminates seafood. The FDA continues to fail to protect consumers by not adequately informing the public to avoid certain contaminated fish species, including canned tuna, which are especially risky for children and pregnant women.

For More Information
UN-WHO meeting summary (PDF document)

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