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Government Study Finds Alarming Rates of Mercury Contamination in Fish

A US Government study released August 19th, 2009 found mercury contamination in every fish tested in nearly 300 streams across the country.

Consuming fish with high levels of mercury can damage the nervous system and cause learning disabilities among young children and fetuses.

For the study, scientists tested more than 1,000 fish including catfish, bass and trout between 1998 and 2005.

Although all the fish in the study had some level of contamination, about a quarter had levels that were unsafe for people who eat average amounts of fish, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

This study, which was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, is the most comprehensive analysis of mercury pollution in our nation's streams to date.

These are some alarming findings and they show just how widespread mercury pollution has become. The researchers note that it is imperative that our country continue to combat pollution and search for alternative energy sources because the main source of atmospheric mercury is coal-fired power plants.

There are many health benefits associated with eating fish, so if you are worried about mercury contamination from stream caught fish, you might consider eating more of the smaller species such as perch, bluegill or crappie.

Like most pollutants, mercury becomes more concentrated as it moves up the food chain so smaller fish tend to have lower levels of the toxin.

You may also want to consider taking an omega-3 supplement certified for purity in order to reap the health benefits of fish without having to worry about mercury contamination. Omega-3s have been shown to boost heart health, lower the risk of developing dementia, improve cognitive function and relieve inflammation.

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