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Mercury is an organic compound that pollutes the air through the burning of fossil fuels and waste and also during some manufacturing processes. Although highly toxic, a small amount of mercury in the bloodstream does not pose serious health concerns, according to the U. Environmental Protection Agency.

List of Foods That Are High in Mercury

However, consuming a lot of mercury-contaminated seafood can trigger neurological issues, like impairment of speech and coordination. From the air, mercury settles in bodies of water and soil, where it washes into lakes and streams. Tiny organisms in the water take it in, and small fish in turn eat those organisms.

When a large fish preys on smaller fish, the natural process creates a chain of contamination, resulting in a build-up of mercury. The more predatory the fish, the more mercury its tissues contain.

The mercury content of seafood leads to a conundrum, because fish also provide benefits for health. Rich sources of complete protein, seafood supplies all the amino acids your body needs to build and repair tissue. Health practitioners recommend replacing foods high in saturated fats like red meat with more omegarich foods like fish. Because of the problem of mercury, however, you need to choose seafood wisely. Particularly at risk for neurotoxicity from fish are women to age 50; pregnant and nursing women; and small children.

While all seafood contains some mercury, varieties to avoid because they have very high levels include:. You can safely eat other types of seafood, including shellfish like clams, crab and shrimp, two to three times a week, according to the EPA. While seafood appears to be of greatest concern for mercury contamination, some research has pointed to other foods that may contain the toxin.

A study published in Food Chemistry in discovered unsafe levels of several toxic metals, including mercury, in a small percentage of rice and edible mushrooms from China. As a possible fix, researchers in found that adding sulfur and iron to rice paddies decreased the amount of mercury in the soil. Their results appeared in the Journal of Soil and Sediments. Two separate studies in sounded a public alarm over mercury found in processed foods containing high fructose corn syrup.

mercury in vegetables

Since that time, however, no further research has confirmed the findings, nor have the EPA or FDA issued any warnings. Also, a study published in in Food Chemistry tested common food products in France for mercury, including baby foods, but found only low concentrations that fell within the safety limits.

Paula Martinac is a nutrition educator, writer and coach. Her areas of research interest include stress, weight management and women's health. Skip to main content.

Healthy Eating Nutrition Nutrition in Foods. Commonly consumed fish to restrict to no more than once a week include:. About the Author Paula Martinac is a nutrition educator, writer and coach. Customer Service Newsroom Contacts.Thank you for visiting nature. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer. In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

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A Nature Research Journal. Mercury contamination in food can pose serious health risks to consumers and coal-fired power plants have been identified as the major source of mercury emissions. To assess the current state of mercury pollution in food crops grown near coal-fired power plants, we measured the total mercury concentration in vegetables and grain crops collected from farms located near two coal-fired power plants.

The mercury concentrations of soil samples were negatively correlated with distances from the studied coal-fired power plants, and the mercury contents in lettuce, amaranth, water spinach, cowpea and rice samples were correlated with the mercury contents in soil samples, respectively. Also, the mercury concentrations in vegetable leaves were much higher than those in roots and the mercury content of vegetable leaves decreased significantly after water rinses.

Our calculation suggests that probable weekly intake of mercury for local residents, assuming all of their vegetables and grains are from their own farmland, may exceed the toxicologically tolerable values allowed, and therefore long-term consumptions of these contaminated vegetables and grains may pose serious health risks.

Rapid industrial development in China is highly dependent on coal energy. InChina consumed 1, This has had severe environmental consequences in China, including thick smog in Beijing and many other cities, exacerbating the greenhouse effect, and widespread heavy metal pollution in the air, water, soil, and agricultural products.

Mercury is a particularly important heavy metal to consider when examining the environmental consequences of coal burning. Although mercury is released into the environment from natural and anthropogenic sources, coal-fired power plants have been identified as the largest source of mercury emissions 2.

Inthe total mercury emissions from coal-fired boilers in China based on mercury emission factors was Mercury emitted from coal-fired boilers in power plants has increased mercury pollution in neighboring areas. It has been reported that in the atmosphere, mercury is in gaseous and particulate forms 456. Plants can absorb mercury that is deposited on leaf surfaces 789. Besides, plants can also uptake mercury from water and soil via roots Majority of mercury accumulates locally in the plant with little mobility, and only small portions may be released into the atmosphere or transported to other plant organs 7811 Mercury accumulated in plants are in the forms of Hg 0Hg IIand organic Hg, and usually aquatic plants contain more methyl mercury organic Hg than terrestrial plant 13 On the other hand, the mercury that accumulates in fish is predominantly organic methyl Hg 15 However, further investigations are needed to further determine how plants uptake and absorb mercury, and how important the dry deposition of fly ash or the uptake of gaseous Hg are for higher plants.

Mercury can be harmful at very low concentrations because of its high toxicity and ability to bioaccumulate 1718 The mercuric ion is one of the strongest thiol-binding agents, and mercury absorbed into the human body attaches to thiol residues in proteins, making it difficult to eliminate from living organisms Intracellular mercury can inactivate sulfur, which can inhibit various enzymes, cofactors, and hormones and result in many diseases in animals or human Mercury can build up and accumulate in the human body and cause severe neurological disorders in children and adults, and also harm unborn fetus if the mother already has a high MeHg level in the body One of the most debilitating diseases caused by mercury exposure is Minamata disease.Mercury is a metal found in the environment, including in the water, air and soil.

You can be exposed to mercury by breathing the vapors, through skin contact or by eating foods contaminated with mercury. Because the nervous system is highly sensitive to mercury, large amounts of mercury can damage the brain and kidneys.

If you are pregnant, mercury can affect the developing fetus. The most common form of mercury is methylmercury, which fish absorb through the water and feeding, causing it to build up in their tissues. Large predator fish such as shark have a high level of mercury because they feed on fish that also ingest mercury. Almost all fish and shellfish contain some mercury; however, swordfish have a high level of mercury.

These fish reach the FDA limit for human consumption of 1 part per million. The FDA and the EPA recommend that young children, women who are pregnant or nursing, or who may become pregnant, avoid eating these fish. The popularity of fish is increasing due to its reputation as an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, and its low-fat and high-protein nutrition profile.

However, certain people should avoid fish like king mackerel because of its high level of mercury. Found along the Atlantic Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, tilefish also have high levels of mercury.

Cooking does not decrease the mercury content in fish, including tilefish, considerably.

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High fructose corn syrup HFCS is a common additive used to enhance the shelf life of foods. Numerous processed foods such as jelly, bread, barbecue sauce and flavored milk are made with HFCS. A January article in "Environmental Health" investigated whether mercury ended up in the final product, as the manufacturing process of HFCS includes mercury cell chlor-alkali products. Varying levels of mercury were detected in nine of 20 samples of HFCS.

The accumulative effect of mercury ingestion due to the large amounts of products with HFCS that Americans consume is a major health concern. Nutrition Nutrition Basics Food and Health. Katie Kirkpatrick. Katie Kirkpatrick has been writing nutrition articles since As a registered dietitian, her work has appeared in the "Massachusetts Dietetic Association Newsletter. Raw tilefish on a bamboo leaf. Share this article.Compiled by: Melissa Kaplan.

Other common sources of mercury: Adhesives Air conditioner filters Amalgams silver fillings Auto exhaust Batteries Bleached flour Calomel talc, body powders Cinnabar used in jewelry Drinking water tap and wellplumbing and piping Fabric softeners Felt Floor waxes and polishes Laxatives Paint pigments and solvents Pesticides Processed foods Vegetables and fruits exposed to pesticides Wood preservatives.

Other names for this ethylmercury: Sodium ethylmercurithiosalicylate Mercurothiolate Merzonin Mertorgan Merfamin Ethyl 2-mercaptobenzoato-S mercury sodium salt Thiomersalate Thiomersal Thiomersalan [ o-carboxyphenyl thio] Ethylmercury sodium salt.

Examples of products containing thimerosal. Examples of Products Free of Thimerosal. This list is also available in PDF format for easy printing. Related Articles. On Liver, Thyroid, and Toxicity. Testing Labs.

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Antibiotics for the Eye. Nasal Preparations. Ear Preparations. Eye Preparations. Contact Lens Products. Most live-virus vaccines including influenza vaccine.This type of fish collects the most mercury in their system. The best tuna to buy is chunked light tuna and avoid albacore tuna. Remember that the 'flaked' kind is the bottom of the barrel.

Avoid it! There is a reason why it's the cheapest. What is it? Mercury is alternatively referred to as hydragyrum or quicksilver. It is the only metal that appears in liquid state at room temperature. Mercury occurs naturally in the environment and is found in air, soil, and water. Increased emission of mercury also comes from man-made sources.

With Hg as its chemical symbol, mercury is a good conductor of electricity, and it gets easily evaporated into the air. This, in turn, is formed naturally in soil as well as water. This form of mercury is mostly seen in items including antiseptics, disinfectants, fungicides, ointments, and skin fairness creams.

A neurotoxin metal, Mercury can be harmful to both humans and animals. The health problems as a result of mercury are based on several factors such as how it got in your body and how long you have been exposed to this metal. Living organisms usually get exposed to mercury through direct skin contacts, intake of water of food contaminated with mercury, and breathing vapors.

Children are more prone to mercury poisoning when compared to adults.

mercury in vegetables

There are also instances in which exposure to mercury affects pregnant women, thereby hindering the development of a healthy fetus. Mercury is also sometimes transmitted to newborns through breast feeding. According to the studies, the exposure to even a small quantity of mercury can adversely affect your health by causing damage to your brain, lungs, and kidney. If you are exposed to mercury, your body may show certain signs and symptoms, depending on how much mercury has entered your body, such as:.

Majority of the symptoms will disappear when the exposure to mercury is decreased or stopped. However, it may sometimes cause permanent ill-effects to the brain and nervous system. Anchovies, herring, sardine, butterfish, mackerel N. Atlantic, Chubscallop, catfish, shad Americanclam, mullet, shrimp, crab, oyster, sole Pacificcrawfish, perch, squid, croaker Atlanticplaice, tilapia, flounder, pollock, trout freshwaterhaddock Atlanticsalmon cannedwhitefish, hake, salmon Freshwhiting.

Top the list of foods that are high in mercury are seafood items.

mercury in vegetables

This is due to the effects of bioaccumulation. Some types of tuna including albacore also contain mercury. Apart from these, food items sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, such as ketchup and sodas, also contain high level of mercury. One of the best ways to keep away from the food items that contain mercury is to carefully check the list of ingredients in food items.

Charts are a great way to help yourself become accountable.Thank you for visiting nature. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer.

In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript. A Nature Research Journal. Mercury pollution in soil poses serious risks to human health through consumption of contaminated vegetables. We used a meta-analysis to examine the mercury enrichment ability of different vegetables and the main factors affecting mercury uptake. We drew the following conclusions.

Meta-analysis of soil mercury accumulation by vegetables

We argue that this meta-analysis aids in selecting vegetables suitable for absorption of heavy metals from polluted soil. At this temperature, mercury easily evaporates from contaminated floors, walls, or clothing, thus becoming a source of secondary air pollution.

The Hg in soil is classified as soluble in the presence of free ions or soluble compounds. In the soil environment, Eh and pH determine the Hg valence. The unique physical and chemical properties of Hg mean that it is widely used in industrial chemical applications, paper manufacturing, mining, and defense industries. For example, chemical wastewater containing mercury is discharged into the surrounding soil; some of the mercury ions are then adsorbed onto the soil, and industrial waste gas is discharged through dry and wet deposition, causing serious soil pollution.

Five heavy metals HMs Cd, Pb, Ni, Hg, and As promote vegetable growth at low concentrations, but inhibit growth at higher concentrations 2. A previous study reported that the consumption of plants found in areas where HMs are present in the soil causes serious damage to metabolic functions 3.

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HMs also damage the digestive tract and kidneys, with both inorganic and organic Hg playing leading roles in causing these harmful effects. Common forms of inorganic Hg, such as HgS and HgCl 2can enter the body through food or simply by inhalation 4.

The presence of small amounts of methyl Hg in pregnant women may cause miscarriage or stillbirth. When pregnant women have increased mercury intake, the fetus may show symptoms of mental bradypsychia, or may even be at risk of congenital Minamata disease 5. Searching for evidence of HM adsorption in soil and undertaking risk assessments of the effects of HM on human health have both recently become important issues.

The widespread nature of pollution and wide range of species affected have led to studies on adsorption capacity for a large number of vegetables intended for human consumption 78. Crops show considerable differences in the way they adsorb HMs because of the variation of plant growth traits, genetic characteristics, physiological properties, morphological and anatomical features, and ion transport mechanisms 91011 Research into the effects of different vegetable varieties on soil Hg adsorption capacity has an important role in making it feasible to control the human intake of HMs.

Currently, most suburban soils of cities of our country demonstrate varying degrees of Hg pollution, and in many local vegetables, fruits, and other foods, the heavy metal content exceeds the standard or is close to the critical value. In China, large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guiyang, Datong, Bengbu, Chengdu, Harbin, Fuzhou, and Shouguang, and medium-sized cities such as Changsha systematically showed heavy metal pollution in suburban vegetable garden soils and vegetables in a survey.

The qualified soil quality standards stipulated by the state laws of China are as follows. In addition to the species-specific differences in the manner in which soil Hg is taken up by different plants, precipitation can, for example, also alter this process by diluting the mercury content in soil, thus affecting the adsorption of mercury by the plant.

Therefore, there is benefit in employing statistical methods to summarize and analyze data in existing literature about the accumulation of HM pollutants in vegetables. As most studies summarize existing data, to the best of our knowledge, no study has used statistical methods to integrate and evaluate research on this topic to date.

mercury in vegetables

Meta-analysis consists of multiple independent experiments towards a common purpose for quantitative research, combined analysis, statistical methods, and a summarized evaluation. In the present study, we conducted a meta-analysis to summarize the Hg adsorption capacity of vegetables, including those grown in China and other countries, to: 1 analyze and compare Hg adsorption capacities of different vegetables to provide a reference for future research, and 2 provide reasonable suggestions for vegetable farming by taking advantage of the varying Hg adsorption trends of different types of vegetables.

We did not include unpublished data or articles that were only summaries of previous literature. Our time frame for studies about the Hg content of vegetables in soil covered the last 10 years December —December The 27 studies each: 1 included at least one of 24 types of selected plants that are able to absorb concentrations of Hg or bioconcentration factor BCF ; 2 had similar literature research methods in that they exhibited data integrity and included specific information on soil physical and chemical properties; and 3 can be aggregated with the results for statistical indicators of the corresponding expression.

For duplicate data, we selected only the most recent and largest set of data. The following information was selected from each article: 1 first author name, year in which the experiment took place, experimental site; 2 measure of vegetable concentration in soil; 3 the physical and chemical properties of the soil soil pH, soil organic matter SOM for both experimental group and control group soil and vegetable samples. In all, references were collected.

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We reviewed and evaluated each study, eliminating duplicate reports and studies with poor study quality, low information availability, and incomplete data.Two recent studies that found mercury in HFCS and in foods containing HFCS suggest that the sweetener could be more of a threat to health than previously believed.

HFCS is used in almost all soft drinks and a great many processed foods, ranging from salad dressings and ketchup, to jams, jellies, ice cream, and many others — even bread. HFCS contains a high percentage of fructose, much more than regular corn syrup. I believe it is a major culprit in the obesity epidemic, especially in kids. The study was published in the Jan. In the second study, food safety researcher David Wallinga, M. All the labels of the foods tested listed HFCS as the first or second ingredient.

The investigators said they believed that the mercury got into the HCFS during the manufacturing process at plants using mercury-grade caustic soda a form of lye used in the chemical industry. Mercury can damage the brain and kidneys, and pregnant women can pass the mercury in their bodies to their babies, possibly harming the developing nervous system and leading to learning disabilities and developmental difficulties. Until these studies were published, the main dietary source of mercury was assumed to be fish, particularly such species as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.

Mercury gets into the oceans from natural sources as well as from emissions from coal-fueled power plants. You can lower your mercury levels over time by simply not eating fish likely to contain it; opt for wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, herring and black cod instead. It may take months for blood levels to drop. The mercury issue makes the case against this sweetener more compelling.

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