Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A wordwide warning about mercury in fish

'Many of the world's leading mercury scientists were assembled into four expert panels in a year-long effort to review and synthesize the major mercury science findings. Every member of all four scientific panels endorsed the declaration.'

The key findings comprising "The Madison Declaration on Mercury Pollution" published on 08 Mar 2007 in a special issue of the international science journal Ambio are:

  • The health risks posed by mercury contaminated fish is sufficient to warrant issuing a worldwide general warning to the public, especially children and women of childbearing age, to be careful about how much and which fish they eat.
  • On average, three times more mercury is falling from the sky today than before the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago as a result of the increasing use of mercury and industrial emissions.
  • The uncontrolled use of mercury in small-scale gold mining is contaminating thousands of sites around the world, posing long-term health risks to an estimated 50 million inhabitants of mining regions. These activities alone contribute more than 10 percent of the mercury in Earth's atmosphere attributable to human activities today.
  • Little is known about the behavior of mercury in marine ecosystems and methylmercury in marine fish, the ingestion of which is the primary way most people at all levels of society worldwide are exposed to this highly toxic form of mercury.
  • Methylmercury exposure now constitutes a public health problem in most regions of the world.
  • Methylmercury levels in fish-eating birds and mammals in some parts of the world are reaching toxic levels, which may lead to population declines in these species and possibly in fish populations as well.

Source: "Mercury contamination of fish warrants worldwide public warning." U. Wisconsin-Madison Press Release 08 Mar 2007.

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