Only 22% of seafood in the western Mediterranean has safe levels of mercury. A Spanish scientist found that out of 58 types of seafood sold in local markets in Spain, Italy and France, he found that only 13 contained levels of mercury considered safe by the European Union.

“Following these findings, public health officials should pay particular attention to seafood with the highest mercury levels and make appropriate preventive health recommendations, especially for pregnant women and children,” said the chief scientist, Joan Grimal.

Conducted by a scientist at the Spanish Institute for Environmental Assessment and Aquatic Research (IDAEA-CSIC), the study analyzed samples of his 1,345 fish caught in the Western Mediterranean.

Species with the lowest mercury levels were sardines, anchovies and salema. Consumption of salema or dream fish is not always without risk.

Mercury levels bioaccumulate at all levels of the marine food chain, so only one large predator had acceptable levels of heavy metals.

Other fish and sea creatures making cuts for mercury were common squid, spotted chamberlain, cymbora, pickerel, two species of sea bream, pearl shad, and brown eagle.

Not a single crustacean has reached the EU safe threshold for mercury levels. Mercury is a common toxic element that can damage the kidneys, lungs, cardiovascular system, and nervous system. Embryos of children under the age of five and pregnant women are particularly susceptible.

Although the Mediterranean Sea feeds more than 480 million people with fish each year, many studies have found the Mediterranean to be a hotspot for metals compared to other bodies of water.

The authors of the study recommend eating low-mercury species to benefit from the fish’s healthy fats while avoiding toxicity.

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Source: The research was published in his December 2022 issue of the Journal of Environmental Pollution.

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