Florida Tracking Program Helps Women Make Safer Fish Choices to Reduce Mercury ExposuresPosted on by
Eating Fish with High Levels of Mercury Harms Developing Nervous Systems
Stephanie is pregnant and has a lot on her mind. She knew to expect morning sickness, doctor visits, and lifestyle changes, but news about dangerous mercury in fish added one more worry on top of that. “I try to eat healthy. I eat a lot of fish, which is scary being a pregnant woman. It’s difficult to know what fish are lowest in mercury,” she said.
Mercury, from natural sources or industrial pollution, can be found in small amounts in seawater. In the wild, some fish absorb higher amounts of mercury than others. Eating moderate amounts of fish is safe and healthy for most people. However, mercury can damage developing nervous systems. Unborn babies and young children are the most sensitive to mercury. Pregnant or nursing women, women who may become pregnant, and young children need to be careful about what kind of fish and how much of it they eat to limit their exposure to mercury.
Tracking Program Study on Fish Eating Habits of Women Informs Education
The Florida Tracking Program is helping women like Stephanie make healthy choices when eating fish. Working with three local health departments, the tracking program studied the fish-eating habits of women of child-bearing age. Results showed that these women ate more fish than women in other parts of the country and that they had higher levels of mercury compared to women who do not eat fish. In addition, they learned that women in the study needed more information about mercury in fish.
To help women reduce their exposures to mercury from fish, the tracking program created the Fish for Your Health wallet card. This small card details information about commonly eaten fish, the risk for mercury exposure, and how much you should eat per week.
People Empowered to Make Safer Fish Choices and Reduce Mercury Exposure
With the Fish for Your Health wallet card, the tracking program is putting easy-to-read health information in the hands of women like Stephanie. It is a simple product that empowers women of childbearing-age to make more informed choices to reduce their exposure to mercury from fish.
Now, Stephanie has one less thing to worry about. “I have a lot of information on just a small card that fits into my wallet,” she said. “If I’m in a grocery store or restaurant, I can easily take it out and see which fish I can eat and how much. It’s been a really helpful tool during my pregnancy.”