Mercury contamination of seafood is a persistent public health threat that poses a significant risk to children and women of child-bearing age. While some mercury is naturally occurring in the environment, activities such as the burning of coal for power generation and industrial processes, such as battery manufacturing, have redistributed the substance and created mercury compounds that are toxic even at extremely low levels of exposure.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration warns pregnant women, children and women who might become pregnant to avoid eating swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel and to limit their intake of tuna because of the high methylmercury levels these species contain.

The longline fishing fleets that target swordfish and tuna are also catching and killing endangered sea turtles and many other marine species, thereby profoundly upsetting the ecological balance of the world's oceans.

Out of Control and Close to Home: Mercury Pollution from Power Plants

Mercury is a highly toxic heavy metal that poses a major public health threat. Because mercury can interfere with development, fetuses and children are most at risk. Mercury pollution from electric utilities remains completely unregulated. While other industries have achieved considerable reductions in mercury emissions, mercury pollution from electric utilities is predicted to increase. Reducing power plant pollution is critical to lowering local mercury hot spots and avoiding the dangerous contamination of fish, wildlife, and people.

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Dr. John E. McCosker
Aquatic Biology
California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Dr.
San Francisco, CA 94118

Aquatic Biology

Our research includes the ancestry, biology, and conservation of aquatic species, populations, and ecosystems.