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Mercury in fish: Is the problem getting worse?

An advocacy group that tests fish for mercury says it found higher levels of the poisonous metal in L.A.-area sushi than four years ago.

Gotmercury.org, a San Francisco Bay Area organization that has tested seafood in sushi restaurants and at grocery stores throughout the country, said it found mercury in local sushi at 0.814 parts for million, up from 0.721 parts per million in 2006. A piece of swordfish tested at a local grocery store seafood counter had three times the amount of mercury that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says should be in food.   

"It's really frightening," said Buffy Martin Tarbox, campaign coordinator for Gotmercury.org. Tarbox is not a scientist and does not represent the survey as scientific. Her staff worked with journalists from KNBC-TV to report and document mercury levels in seafood by purchasing samples from area sushi restaurants, grocery stores and a farmers market and having them tested.

Here are links to the organization's study as well as the KNBC report. I've also included a link to a story that ran in the Wall Street Journal in 2005 about a boy who doctors said lost cognitive function after eating too much tuna and developing mercury poisoning. (A subscription is required to read the full piece on the Wall Street Journal site. It is also available on the sites of several interest groups.)

-- Sharon Bernstein

 
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