New Analysis on Blood Mercury Levels & Seafood Consumption Does Not Resolve The Debate Over What Level Is Considered A Health Risk

While seafood generally is considered part of a healthy diet, it can also
contain methyl mercury—a neurotoxin. However, there is little to no scientific consensus on what level of mercury in the blood is considered a health hazard (ATSDR, EPA).

A group of NCHS researchers – Samara Joy Nielsen, Brian K Kit, Yutaka Aoki, and Cynthia L Ogden – used data from the 2007-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to describe seafood consumption in US adults and to explore the relationship between seafood consumption and blood mercury. The article, “Seafood consumption and blood mercury concentrations in adults over age 20 years, 2007–2010,” was posted online in the February 12 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The authors conclude that most US adults consume seafood (approximately 83%), and that blood mercury concentration is associated with the consumption of tuna, salmon, high-mercury fish, and other seafood. However, due to the lack of consensus on what levels of mercury pose a significant health risk, they do not draw any other further conclusions about what proportion of the adult population may be at risk due to seafood consumption.


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