Mercury in Seafood

U.S. Fish Advice May Expose Babies to Too Much Mercury

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

By Sonya Lunder, MPH, senior analyst

Mercury in Seafood

U.S. Fish Advice May Expose Babies to Too Much Mercury

In 2014, federal agencies issued draft recommendations that women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or might become pregnant and young children eat more fish that is lower in mercury. Their advice is based on the fact that seafood consumption is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients.

EWG felt the advice didn’t go far enough. It would be ineffective, even dangerous, for women who ate too much mercury or fish species low in omega-3 fatty acids.

Now our concerns have been confirmed by a new study.

We enrolled 254 women who eat at least two meals of seafood, fish or shellfish every week and measured the amount of mercury in their hair to assess how much mercury was in their bodies.

We found that almost 30 percent of our participants had too much mercury exposure according to Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for pregnant women.  Much of their exposure was tied to fish species like tuna steaks and sushi that are not included in the government’s warning.

What You Can Do

1. Watch Our Video

EWG’s 2-minute video is the best way to hear about the findings and recommendations from our study.


2. Read the report

If the video made you want to learn more, you can read the full report here.

3. Educate Yourself

seafood calculatorEWG provides guidelines for choosing seafood high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury. Here’s how to check them out.

  • Calculator: Use our calculator to get a custom seafood list – based on your age weight and more.
  • Guidelines: We also have general guidelines that fill the gaps of the federal government’s flawed guidance.
  • Wallet Card: You can bring our guidelines with you. Click here to order a pocket guide to choosing seafood high in omega-3 fatty acids, low in mercury and sustainable.
  • FAQs: Still have questions about seafood, mercury or omega-3 fats? Check out our frequently asked questions.

4. Tell Your Friends

Let your friends know who would be interested in protecting themselves against too much mercury exposure.