Climate Change

Published on February 6th, 2013 | by Andrea Bertoli

how does mercury get into the seafood you eat?

If you eat the fishes of the sea here’s an article for you! We always hear about the mercury content in seafoods, but did you ever wonder how it got there?

First, it’s important to know that there is a lot of mercury in our oceans and in the fish that end up on your plate. Most people know of the mercury risk (especially women of baby-making age). But have you ever wondered how, exactly, that mercury got there? According to this article in Grist, “pollution near the ocean’s surface has more than doubled as a result of human activities over the last century.” Gross, right?

Fossil fuels are the main cause of mercury pollution, in the form of coal-burning power plants but also from industrial runoff from industry and mining. The good news is that by cutting our on-shore fuel emission, the fishes will be better for it. By directly cutting our fossil fuel outputs the amount of mercury in fish would decrease in proportion- not exactly 1:1, but it would decrease significantly. Though Asia is now the main producer of atmospheric mercury (I don’t think the US is too far behind!), scientist Celia Chen notes that now is the, “opportunity to push for more monitoring and regulation — especially now that this massive team of scientists has shined a bright light on [these effects].” If you want to continue to eat fish, then it’s just one more good reason to reduce our fossil fuel consumption!

Here’s a cool infographic about how mercury gets from us into the oceans and into the fishes. And be sure to check out the original article here: Mercury in seafood: Where does it come from? | Grist.

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About the Author

A vegan chef, cookbook author, educator, writer, surfer, and yogi based in San Francisco, Andrea is also the Accounts Manager for Important Media. Follow her foodie adventures at, Vibrant Wellness Journal, Green Living Ideas and Eat Drink Better. Find more from Andrea on Facebook and Instagram

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