Something’s Fishy…Is it Safe to Eat Fish?

By Dr. Rick Morris

Mercury is a poisonous metal released into the air by the burning of coal in energy plants. The mercury falls down to earth landing in our streams, lakes and oceans. The fish eat the mercury and we eat the fish.

So Who Cares…We All Know There Is Pollution…I Can’t Go Crazy About Everything That’s In Our Air And Water!

That’s true. You can’t live in a constant state of fear; but, there are times to pay attention. It’s believed that 60,000 kids develop learning and neurological disorders (e.g. autism, ADD, mental retardation) due to mercury poisoning each year. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and experts in the EPA report that 1 in 7 women and 630,000 babies per year are exposed to unsafe levels of mercury. More than 40 U.S. states presently restrict fish consumption from their waters due to their fish being poisonous. Current research is associating the rise in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Cardiovascular Disease with mercury toxicity. This is a current health problem of large magnitude.

If The Problem Was That Severe, The Government Would Issue A Warning

They did. The EPA and the FDA made the following warning (primarily to females who want to have children sometime in the future, pregnant women, children and nursing mothers… but it applies to us all):

  1. Do not eat high mercury fish such as Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel or Tilefish ever.
  2. Do not eat more than 2 meals per week with any of the following: a.Shrimp, canned light tuna (or one meal per week of albacore tuna), salmon, Pollock and catfish
  3. Check the safety of local waters before eating caught fish

We are being told not to eat a primary portion of our food chain! Does that get your attention?

So What’s Being Done

The evidence about the danger of mercury was overwhelming. By December 2000, the Clinton administration declared mercury emissions to be “hazardous,” forcing the EPA to use the “Maximum Available Technology” to restrict the amount of mercury in the air and water.

For two years, a government panel met establishing guidelines that would limit Mercury by 90% by 2008. But in April, President Bush dismantled the panel and put mercury under a weaker category (used for less toxic substances). This gave the utilities until 2018 (10 additional years) to comply and weakened the reduction to just 70%. Making things worse, polluting companies would be allowed to buy “mercury credits” from other companies that had low mercury emissions. This would create “hot spots” of mercury near coal refineries.

The “buying credit” approach worked in limiting lighter chemicals that floated for long distances in our atmosphere (e.g. sulfur dioxide); but, unlike mercury, which is so heavy, areas near the refineries would be devastated. For obvious reasons, twelve states sued the government to prevent this policy from going forward. Half the Senate, from both parties, sent a letter warning the EPA against their mercury proposals. 60 other pollutants, besides Mercury, were taken off the “clean-up” list for an additional 10 years as well.

This letter is not intended to invade your personal, political beliefs. That is far beyond my right as your doctor. But, I’m expected to bring significant health concerns to your attention…I feel this qualifies.

Fish is a great source of protein and Omega 3 Fatty acids which prevent coronary vascular disease, decreases inflammation, regulates cholesterol and improves hormonal balance (a future article will cover this topic) and should be in every one of your diets.

I’ve included a chart listing the average amount of mercury in typical sea foods. Use it as a guide. For those of you who want the omega 3 fatty acids without eating fish, you can take EPA/DHA (the important ingredients in fish) as a supplement. But use caution, this supplement is made from fish and has high levels of mercury, too. Metagenics (and possibly a few other companies) processes out most of the mercury so that it’s just 10% of what’s allowable. You’ll pay more, but….what can you do?

Yes, there is something you can do…

Write to the president and the EPA and let them know that you’re concerned about the environment and their mercury policy. Let them know that you do not support extending the time for compliance until 2017 and that “selling” pollution credits for Mercury does not work.

To Bring Out The Activist In You and As This Month’s Gift…

I’ll give one bottle of EPA-DHA (the low mercury type) with one that you purchase if you come into my office and sign a letter to the President and the EPA. I’ll stamp and mail the letter the same day. Come in immediately, this law is being discussed as you’re reading this and must be sent by May 20th.

Thank you.

P.S. I’m sorry if you feel that I crossed into your personal, political beliefs…This newsletter was a tough decision for me; but, I felt this issue went far beyond politics and into the area of your health.




Rick H. Morris, D.C., C.C.S.P., Q.M.E., A.B.A.A.H.P.
April Hopson, D.C.

1243 7th Street, Suite B, Santa Monica, California 90401
tel: 310-451-5851 | fax:310-458-0051
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.