How does mercury reach our seafood?
Before we explain why you should eat low-mercury seafood, we first need to understand where the harmful mercury compound comes from.
Mercury occurs naturally in our environment. For instance, it can be released into the air during volcanic activity. But mercury can also come from human action. We produce mercury through the burning of coal and fossil fuel and the disposal of household or industrial wastes. The mercury eventually settles into the sediments in bodies of water, such as lakes, seas, and oceans. There, bacterial activity converts the inorganic mercury (mercury that hasn’t combined with carbon) to methylmercury (the one that has already combined with carbon).
Sea creatures absorb methylmercury in two ways. They absorb it when water passes through their gills or they eat other fish that have mercury. Like fish, humans can ingest methylmercury through the food.
What are the dangers of eating high-mercury fish and seafood?
The dangers of eating high-mercury fish and seafood often depends on several factors:
- The type of mercury (inorganic, methyl mercury, etc.)
- Dosage and duration of exposure
- Our age (or developmental stage, in the case of fetuses)
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), we have all been exposed to mercury in one way or another. Majority of us have had long-term exposure to low levels of mercury, while others experience constant exposure to high levels of mercury. The people who are most vulnerable to the effects of methylmercury are those who rely primarily on seafood for their sustenance.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, seek medical help right away. They could be the symptoms of mercury poisoning:
- Loss of peripheral vision or blindness
- Cerebral palsy
- The feeling of pins and needles around the mouth, hands, and feet
- Impaired hearing and speech
- Difficulty walking and muscle weakness
Another high-risk group is that of fetuses and children under 6 years of age. If a pregnant mother consumes high-mercury seafood, the compound may reach the baby’s system. When that happens, the methylmercury negatively affects the baby’s developing brain and nervous system. Additionally, some reports indicate that mercury exposure can damage the fetus’ heart and blood vessels.