Care Urged in Reporting on Mercury Analysis

November 29, 2012, Washington, D.C. The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) is warning reporters, editors and producers to be cautious when covering a new analysis of data on pollutants and women from Brown University.

The report is a quintessential example of the need for journalists to avoid hyperbole and report in the context of the greater body of science, not just one part of one review of one analysis.

The report finds 9.7 percent of women exceeded the median blood levels for mercury. However, unlike lead and PCBs, the other pollutants examined, mercury exposure from fish also comes with the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Myriad new studies, like a recent one from Harvard researchers, find the health benefits from consuming a variety of seafood outweigh the health risks associated with methyl mercury. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported on the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids and the protective effect of fish consumption and noted no harmful effect [from] mercury.

To report on mercury exposure and the Brown University analysis without noting the latest body of Omega-3 research is incomplete, misleading and negligent. Women do not consume mercury in a vacuumwhen it comes from fish it is accompanied by Omega-3 fatty acidsperiod.

Red-faced media outlets that recently misreported on an ADHD symptom study found the correct conclusion was that pregnant women who eat more seafood, including traces of mercury, may lower their childrens risk for ADHD-like behaviors, not increase the risk, based on the protective nature of Omega-3s. Corrections and apologies rather than real reporting were the hallmark of that media cycle.

Dont waste time and ink getting it wrong. Please educate yourself about the history of the science on this issue and use the National Fisheries Institute as a resource.

For more than 60 years, the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) and its members have provided American families with the variety of sustainable seafood essential to a healthy diet. For more information visit:


Contact Information

Gavin Gibbons
(703) 752-8891