Is it at all inconsistent for the FDA to suggest “safe” levels of mercury ingestion for pregnant women, children and adults and yet allow 12 times that level to be given to an infant at the age of six months? And higher than recommended levels for every flu shot ever given to them? See the calculations below.
Nearly all fish contain trace amounts of methylmercury (mercury). Pregnant women, nursing mothers, and very young children are cautioned against excessive consumption of these fish.
Problems that can occur with excessive mercury intake were not well-known until the 1950’s when an epidemic hit fishermen and their families on Japan’s Minamata Bay. People whose diet was primarily seafood showed signs of brain damage and seizures. The investigation linked the health problems to methylmercury poisoning from a local chemical plant that was discharging organic mercury into the bay.
In 1969, the FDA first set an action level for total mercury in fish; 0.5ppm (parts-per-million) was considered the maximum safe limit. In 1979, the action level was raised to 1ppm. In 1984, the FDA stopped measuring on a basis of total mercury and instead started checking levels in terms of methylmercury only. In 1998, the FDA stopped widely testing for mercury in fish.
Health Canada advises consumers to limit their consumption of swordfish, shark or fresh and frozen tuna to one meal per week. For young children and women of child-bearing age, the recommended limit is one meal per month. Health Canada’s guideline is 0.5ppm total mercury content which is more stringent than in the U.S.
Britain’s Food Standards Agency is advising pregnant and breastfeeding women and women who intend to become pregnant to limit their consumption of tuna to no more than two medium-size cans or one fresh tuna steak per week.
Even within the United States, women are hearing different advice from different sources, especially where tuna is concerned. The EPA’s methylmercury guideline is a recommended limit on mercury consumption based on bodyweight, also known as a “reference dose.” EPA’s methylmercury reference dose is .1 micrograms/kg body weight per day.
So exactly how much mercury would a 45 lb. child (a 4-5 year old) ingest by eating one 6 ounce can of tuna per week, and how does that compare to the EPA’s reference dose. And then let’s compare that to the amount of mercury in all flu vaccines except FluMist. Take a look at the following calculations:
Determine the EPA’s Recommended Mercury Level for a 45 Pound Child:
Divide the child’s body weight by 2.2: 45 / 2.2 = 20.45 kilograms
20.45 kilograms x .1 micrograms per kilogram per day =
2.05 micrograms per day or 14.35 micrograms per week.
How Much Mercury is in Six Ounces of Chunk White Tuna:
Six ounces = 170 grams
170 grams X .31 ppm = 52.7 micrograms
Amount of Mercury in ALL Flu Vaccines Except FluMist:
Each manufacturer of influenza vaccines except MedImmune’s FluMist, in their package insert claim it contains 50 mcg thimerosal which equates to approximately 25 mcg mercury in each 0.5-mL shot. It is added as a preservative.
From the above numbers, the FDA recommends 2.05 micrograms per day for a 4 or 5 year old…a six ounce can of tuna contains 52.7 micrograms of mercury…and a flu shot contains 25 mcg of mercury.
Pregnant women are advised to limit, if not avoid, mercury in their fish and food to protect the developing baby. By the FDA’s own recommendation, children and adults should limit their exposures as well. Danger is suggested for a 45 pound child at levels above 2.05 micrograms per day…tuna can be avoided…but the same FDA recommends flu shots each year after the age of six months and that flu shot contains 12 times the recommended exposure in just one day!
Carrying out these calculations, math tells us that one must weigh 550 pounds to take in a safe level of mercury from a flu shot…according to the FDA.
Determine the EPA’s Recommended Mercury Level for a 550 Pound Adult:
Divide the adult’s body weight by 2.2: 550 / 2.2 = 250 kilograms
250 kilograms x .1 micrograms per kilogram per day =
25 micrograms per day…the amount found in the flu shot.
In all fairness, the flu shot…with 25 mcg. of mercury is a one day dose. It’s not everyday. Maybe the dose is all the mercury exposure the child has for a few weeks or months. And the body does have some abilities to clear the mercury out. Fully? We don’t know for sure. Does a child have the same abilities as a mature adult? Or a healthy adult? Is the child healthy? Quite a few unknowns.