Mercury & South Mississippi - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/14/04

Mercury & South Mississippi

The food and drug administration is warning parents to protect their children by limiting their consumption of fish. The FDA announced this month that the primary danger from methyl mercury is to the developing nervous system of unborn children, but it's also dangerous for nursing mothers and young children as well.

Scientists and consumers we spoke to said there only thing the new warning will do is to create a concern about fish that is unnecessary.

"Mercury is naturally found in our environment. It comes through seepage, through oil exploration and through run off, so it's a natural existing element in the environment," 'Marine Life' Director Dr. Moby Solangi said.

Dolphins, like the ones at Marine Life may hold some clues to how much mercury is in our water. Scientists said more data is needed to make such a warning; to ban eating fish.

"Fish is a very health commodity, and it's very good for our health and we need to be careful to make such statements without scientific evidence," Solangi said.

Solangi currently studies the levels of mercury and other heavy metals in our water and since dolphins only eat fish, if there are any contaminants in the fish it will show up in the dolphins.

Solangi measures mercury in both captive and wild dolphins in our area and so far his studies reveal that the mercury levels in fish are at healthy levels, if there are any at all.

"I think every agency errors on the side of caution, and caution is important and I think it is high time we study it and make the decisions on scientific data," Solangi said.

"For 60 years we have been eating seafood in Louisiana," one fish shopper said.

The shopper from Baton Rouge came to Gulfport's harbor to buy fish Sunday afternoon. She said she is concerned about contaminants in fish but doesn't plan on changing her ways.

"I think it's very rare to find it in a big extent in most fish. You've been eating fish all your life it's hard to say that the mercury is going to kill me. It should have by now and it hasn't," she said.

The FDA reports that you can safely eat up to 12 ounces of purchased fish a week and to check your local advisories about the safety of fish. Scientists, including the U.S. Tuna foundation said these estimates are unfounded and also lack scientific backup.

By Nathan Mihelich

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