Mercury Poisoning: About Fish

Mercury can only be found in fish through laboratory analysis. Mercury contamination is dangerous. Mercury cannot be "cooked out" of the fish.

What you should do

Watch what you eat

Canned tuna typically contains lower levels of mercury than frozen or fresh tuna. Light tuna typically contains lower levels of mercury than white (albacore) tuna. Avoid eating bass, pike, tilefish, king mackerel fish, and pickerel. Swordfish, shark, bluefish, striped bass, and freshwater fish (with the exception of stocked trout) that are caught in Rhode Island should also not be eaten. Although mercury levels in bluefish and striped bass are low, the Food and Drug Administration cautions against eating these fish because of the presence of other contaminants known as polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. Limit black crappie and eel consumption to one meal per month. Eat smaller fish and vary the types of fish that you eat.

Take special precautions if you are pregnant, or may become pregnant

Given the effects of mercury exposure on some fetuses, pregnant women and women who are planning pregnancies are particularly advised to not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. However, seafood can be an important part of a balanced diet for pregnant women and women who may become pregnant. Such women can eat up to 12 ounces a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are low in mercury (a typical serving size for fish is three to six ounces). Some common fish that are low in mercury include shrimp, light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish. Pregnant women or women who may become pregnant should eat no more that six ounces of tuna per week.

Poison Hotline


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Consumer Awareness about Mercury in Fish, 2005 Project Report


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