Rise in Accumulations of Methyl-mercury toxin in Fish
Contrary to the conventional wisdom that the reduction of methyl-mercury contaminants in the seawater, studies have found that the rise of the dangerous toxins in the fish has increased.
Why has this happened?
- Researchers have claimed that the general increase in the rise of methyl-mercury toxins in the fish can be attributed to the two factors- ocean warming and dietary shifts in fishes due to overfishing caused by increasing human consumption.
- Particularly, in codfish, the rise of methyl-mercury can be directly attributed to the overfishing which was a result of greater demand for codfish in global markets.
- Data of the past 30 years has been analyzed by researchers and it has shown that a 23% increase has been observed in the concentration of methyl-mercury in the codfish found in the Atlantic Ocean.
- Contrarily, a decrease of 33-61% reduction in the concentration of methyl-mercury has been observed in the spiny dogfish between the years 1970-2000s.
- While the codfish feed on herrings and lobsters rather than other small fishes while the spiny dogfish feeds on squid and cephalopods.
- Herrings and Lobsters have a higher accumulation of mercury in them.?
- The concentration is also dependent on ocean temperatures which are rising globally.?
- It is observed that human exposure to toxins through fish consumption will increase due to rising consumption and due to climate change.
Effect of Mercury on Humans
- Prolonged exposure and consumption of mercury have been found to cause Mercury poisoning.
- The symptoms of mercury poisoning include muscle weakness, poor coordination in the digits & limbs, high level of numbness in the hands and feet, rashes on the skin, anxiety, memory problems, trouble speaking, trouble hearing, or trouble seeing.
- If there is a high level of exposure to mercury, it is known as Minamata disease.
- Exposure to Methylmercury in small children causes acrodynia (a pink disease which makes the skin look pink and peels).
- Other effects include kidney problems and decreased intelligence.