U.S. Water News Online
BOSTON -- Low levels of mercury in fish may not
be as harmful to regular fish eaters as experts once thought, according to a recently
released study. Heavy consumption of mercury-tainted fish has long been
considered particularly dangerous to pregnant women and their unborn babies.
But in a new study conducted by the University of Rochester
a period of 15 years in the Seychelles Islands, tests show no link between
the children's development over their first five and a half years and the levels
of mercury found in their mother's hair during pregnancy. Concentration of
mercury in the mother's hair is a measure of the amount of mercury to which
fetuses were exposed.
The journal of Neuro Toxicology published 11 articles
the study, which tracked the mental and physical development of more than 1,500
children starting at six months of age. The study is expected to sharpen the
debate over mercury poisoning in the United States, where 37 states advise
people to limit consumption of freshwater fish because of mercury.
"It is a pivotal study, no doubt about it," said Micael
Bolger, an international mercury poisoning expert and toxicologist with the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "It's not the whole story, but it's
a good part of it."
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