Because of Australia’s electricity production mix (over 75%) of which is produced by coal burning, Australia likely ends up adding more mercury per capita into the marine food chain than most other countries on the planet.
Coal provides the vast majority of the main base-load electricity capacity in Australia, which is more than any other developed country except Denmark and Greece, and the populations of both those countries combined don’t exceed that of Australia. Also Australia exports quite a bit of coal to other nations on an annual basis.
Curious minds and one would expect the large Corporate News agencies should have been asking the question for years of just how does a lethal substance such as mercury get into some of the worlds favorite large fish that are routinely eaten on a regular basis such as tuna?
Mercury (Hg) is #80 on the periodic table and Methyl mercury is a lethal pollutant, which is produced as a by-product of coal-fired electricity generation, smelting and the incineration of waste. Once the mercury is airborne it finds its way via lakes, rivers to the ocean, where it is eaten by various members of the marine food chain. Mercury then bioaccumulates up the food chain in the larger predators, where it is eventually eaten by humans. Thus why smaller fish have less mercury accumulation, than larger ones.
The USA’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that up to 10 percent of American women of childbearing age currently carry enough mercury in their bloodstreams to put their developing children at increased risk for developmental problems. Mercury related issues include: Increased risk of poor performance on neurobehavioral tasks, such as those measuring attention, fine motor function, language skills, visual-spatial abilities and verbal memory.
The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) a non-profit organization says those with mercury concerns should avoid: bluefin tuna, walleye, king mackerel and marlin. Also: Bluefish, shark, swordfish, wild sturgeon, opah and bigeye tuna carry a proportionately large amount of burden as well. Also of a slightly lesser concern are: orange roughy, Chilean sea bass, blue crab, lingcod, Spanish mackerel, spotted seatrout, wahoo, grouper, snapper, halibut, tile fish, rock fish and sable fish, and last but not least the popular blackfin, albacore and yellowfin tuna.
Video: Mercury: The Killer Liquid Metal Hiding in Fish
EV of the Year Judge, independent green journalist, photographer, author and sustainability activist that has published over 1000 articles. Mr Burridge’s travels have taken him to over 30 countries and 300+ major cities. He is originally from the USA, but has been residing in Australia for the last seven years. Connect to Ken Burridge on: Twitter, facebook, Google+, Linked in or website