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EPA Study: Mercury Levels In Women Of Childbearing Age Drop 34 Percent

A study has revealed that blood mercury levels in women of child bearing age have dropped 34 percent from a 1999-2000 survey to a follow-up study from 2001-2010. Between the investigations, there was very little change in the amount of fish consumed by the participants.

The study by the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) also showed that the percentage of women of childbearing age with blood mercury levels above the level of concern had decreased by 65 percent from the previous survey. The results were said to suggest that women may have shifted to eating types of fish with lower mercury concentrations.

Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet as they contain protein, vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and are mostly low in saturated fat. While many fish contain mercury, which can be seen as harmful to unborn babies, the selenium element found in tuna acts as a natural defense against mercury and contributes to healthy brain development.

The EPA and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advise women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children that it is healthy to eat two average meals (12 ounces) of fish and shellfish per week. EPA and FDA suggest canned light tuna, shrimp, salmon, pollock and catfish as five options that are low in mercury.

This year, the EPA has taken two significant actions towards making especially fresh water, coastal fish and shellfish safer to eat. In June, the agency proposed new effluent guidelines for steam electric power plants, which currently account for more than half of all toxic pollutants discharged into streams, rivers and lakes from industrial facilities in the U.S. In April, EPA issued the new Mercury and Air Toxics rule, which sets emissions limitation standards for mercury emitted from power plants. Compliance with this rule may take up to four years. Most tuna swim in high seas areas, where the influence of on-land pollution is relatively lower.