Amber Valletta on Preventing Mercury Exposure

May 09, 2008, 01:00 ET from Oceana

    WASHINGTON, May 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Oceana, an international
 ocean conservation group based in Washington, D.C., has been working to
 prevent seafood contamination for many years. Consuming big fish high on
 the food chain is the primary way that we are exposed to mercury, a heavy
 metal that can cause neurological and other health problems.
     In honor of Mother's Day, Oceana celebrity spokes-Mom Amber Valletta
 offers a few tips for keeping your family mercury-free (and worry-free):
-- Choose low-mercury fish--fish that are small and low on the food chain. Because mercury bioaccumulates up the marine food chain, small fish such as tilapia and cod and shellfish such as shrimp, crab and oysters have low mercury levels. The Washington State Department of Health has a very handy pocket guide to mercury levels in fish (
-- Limit fish consumption to 12 ounces a week for kids and women, especially if you're thinking about getting pregnant. Because mercury is a neurotoxin that can affect children, babies and fetuses at lower doses than adults, it's most important for kids and women who are pregnant, nursing or may become pregnant to avoid high-mercury fish. Keep in mind that your body can take a while to excrete mercury that you consumed before you got pregnant, so if there's any chance you may become pregnant soon, it's best to be cautious about mercury in fish.
-- Choose "chunk light tuna" or canned wild Alaska salmon over "solid white albacore tuna." The average level of mercury in cans of chunk light tuna, usually skipjack tuna, tested by the Food and Drug Administration, was about one third the average mercury level in the cans of albacore the FDA tested. If your family can adjust, you might try switching to canned salmon, instead of tuna, which has tested even lower in mercury and higher in healthy Omega-3s. For more information, check out Oceana's page about mercury in canned fish ( on/the-problem/protect-your-family/canned-fish).
-- Tell your grocery store to post signs containing the FDA advice ( about mercury for women of child-bearing age and children at their seafood counters. Oceana has persuaded nearly 30% of U.S. grocery stores to post this information but they're working to get even more on board. If your grocery store were posting this information, you wouldn't need to read my tips!
-- To help keep all of our kids mercury-free, donate to Oceana's Campaign to Stop Seafood Contamination. They are working to reduce mercury pollution released into the environment and to educate the public about mercury in seafood. For more specifics about Oceana's campaign, go to on/ Amber Valletta file photo: JPG Amber Valletta biography: on/media-resources/amber-valletta/