Fish Consumption Advisories
To enjoy the benefits of eating fish while minimizing exposure to mercury, you should eat mainly types of fish low in mercury and also limit your consumption of types of fish with typically higher levels of mercury.
Fish are important in a healthy diet. They are a lean, low-calorie source of protein. However, some fish may contain methylmercury or other harmful chemicals at sufficiently high levels to be a concern. Federal, state and local governments issue fish consumption advisories when the fish are unsafe to eat. The advisories may suggest that people avoid eating certain kinds or certain amounts of fish. Some advisories apply to specific water types (like lakes). Some may focus on groups of particularly sensitive people. Some advisories include notices of "no restriction" to tell us that certain fish are safe to eat. As states increase the waters they monitor for contaminated fish, both the number of advisories and the waters where it is safe to eat fish are increasing. Visit the links below to learn more about mercury in fish, fish consumption advisories, and state fish advisories.
If you are concerned for your health or your family's as a result of exposure to mercury, get in touch with your health care provider. They will be able to tell you if mercury exposure is a problem for you and what to do about it.
EPA-FDA Joint Federal Advisory for Mercury in Fish: “What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish” - The FDA/EPA Fish Consumption Advisory informs women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers and the parents of young children about how to get the positive health benefits from eating fish and shellfish lower in mercury (for example, shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish), while minimizing mercury exposure by avoiding types of fish that are higher in mercury (for example, shark, swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel).
The degree of exposure to mercury is derived from both the amount and the type of fish eaten. The key factor to an individual's health is related to the amount and type of fish the individual consumes.
EPA's Fish Consumption Advisories Web site - This site provides general information on fish advisories, public information materials, technical guidance documents, and related links. The site includes a state-by-state map that provides links to state, tribal and territorial fish advisory programs.
National Listing of Fish and Wildlife Advisories - This detailed and technical database contains information on specific bodies of water, contaminants, and species of fish. The database includes a state-by-state list of contacts and Web sites that can provide you with more information.
Seafood Information and Resources - U.S. Food and Drug Administration's food information about the risks of methylmercury in fish and shellfish. You can also access this information toll-free at 1-888-SAFEFOOD.
Seafood Consumer Advice - FoodSafety.gov, the gateway to government food safety information, provides general information on seafood safety.
The Mercury Study Report to Congress (Volume IV: An Assessment of Exposure to Mercury in the United States) (PDF) (293 pp., 1MB, About PDF) - EPA prepared this report to fulfill requirements of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. Published in 1997, it is an eight volume assessment of the magnitude of U.S. mercury emissions by source; the health and environmental impacts of those emissions; and the availability and cost of control technologies.
Trends in Blood Mercury Concentrations and Fish Consumption Report (PDF) (81 pp, 1 MB, About PDF) - EPA has released the results of a peer-reviewed study on trends in levels of mercury in the blood of women of reproductive age from 1999 to 2010. The results are included in a new report, Trends in Blood Mercury Concentrations and Fish Consumption among U.S. Women of Childbearing Age. The Agency used measurements of blood mercury levels from the Centers for Disease Control's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which is conducted every two years.