Fears grow over rising mercury levels in fish

October 24, 1997

Research into seabird feathers has revealed that mercury pollution is increasing most quickly in deep-sea food chains, raising concerns about using deep-sea fish stocks for human food. Bob Furness of Glasgow University's Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences and Luis Monteiro of the University of the Azores are leading a team that has been analysing feathers from seabirds to assess levels of mercury contamination. Mercury is a highly toxic metal that can cause neurological disorders. The main source for humans is from fish.

The research has found that mercury concentrations have increased by 4.2 per cent in seabirds feeding on deep-sea fish, but only 1.5 per cent in those feeding on surface fish stocks.

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