New mercury fish consumption warnings now include benefits of eating uncontaminated fish

For years, pregnant women have been advised to stay away from eating fish because of their mercury content. But last week’s announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tweaked that advice, making it clear that it is healthy to eat fish without troublesome mercury levels. Fish that are packed with protein and omega-3 fatty acids make an extremely healthy meal for the mother and child, as long as it is low in mercury, EPA, FDA and Michigan Department of Community Health officials now officially advise. State and federal health authorities have long advised that eating too many fish meals containing mercury can damage the brain, nervous system and kidneys, and even harm the development of a pregnant woman’s fetus. This is the first time that eating a minimum amount of low mercury fish has been promoted as a guideline when announcing new draft mercury standards.

Muskegon and White lakes reach cleanup milestones

Cleanup efforts at two Michigan Areas of Concern, Muskegon Lake and White Lake, have reached important milestones, according to the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes. The Environmental Protection Agency on Feb. 26 lifted Beneficial Use Impairments on both lakes pertaining to fish consumption, allowing local residents and anglers to fish these lakes with fewer restrictions. Recent studies by Grand Valley State University on the lakes revealed that fish there did not possess higher concentrations of PCBs or mercury than fish in lakes that were not listed as Areas of Concern. Both lakes remain subject to the same fish consumption advisories as the other lakes in the area.

PSA: Mercury – Cleanup can cost you

Cleanup in the wake of a mercury spill can cost thousands of dollars, according to this public service announcement from the Michigan Department of Community Health. “Most spills that are handled quickly and correctly pose no health threat,” said Christina Bush, health department toxicologist. “You might be able to clean up a small spill, like that from a fever thermometer, on your own, but do not vacuum a mercury spill,” Bush said, “Doing so will contaminate your vacuum cleaner and increase the mercury vapor dramatically. If you are unable to clean up the spill right away, tape plastic (like garbage bags) on the mercury-contaminated carpet or flooring . This will reduce the amount of mercury vapor that could get into the air.”

PSA: Mercury – It can be recycled

Mercury, a hazardous material found in many common household items, can be safely recycled by local health departments, according to this public service announcement from the Michigan Department of Community Health. “Mercury that is recycled will be purified so that it can be used for industrial and laboratory applications,” said department toxicologist Christina Bush, “There are some instances where mercury is the best or only option to use. But mercury-containing items in homes, schools, and medical settings can be replaced with safer alternatives.” Additional information on the safe disposal of mercury, as well as the health risks the substance presents, can be found at the health department’s mercury website. The full series of health department mercury PSAs can be found here.