Safe Levels of Mercury

With all the harm that mercury causes to the human body and to the environment, is there really any safe level of mercury? The answer is of course that it depends who you talk to, and why the mercury is being ingested.

The US EPA has set a maximum level of safe daily intake at 0.1 micrograms per kg of user weight. 1kg = 2.2 pounds. So a woman weighing 140 pounds would weigh 63.5kg. This means she could ingest 6.35 micrograms of mercury, according to the US EPA.

According to WHO, they found some people who had their dental fillings release 100 micrograms a day into their body. Clearly that's quite over the US EPA amounts. Even if they had just one tiny mercury filling and it released 1.7 micrograms, which is more of an average value, that is still a substantial amount of an adult's maximum dosage. Since there's no reason to have a mercury filling any more, it would seem that removing or not getting mercury fillings would seem to be an important first step in reducing a body's overall mercury load.

Studies find that the average adult has half of their mercury intake come from those mercury fillings. What is the other half from, then?

It's primarily coming from fish. This is where you have to start balancing the pros and cons. Yes I agree wholeheartedly that mercury is not good for you. But I also think fish oils are incredibly important for you. Fish oils help your brain work smoothly and many other parts of your neurological system as well. So the key is to reduce all *other* forms of mercury as much as you can so that the small amounts you take in through healthy fish choices can be quickly expelled by your body.

For example, you'd want to avoid tilefish, which has 1.45ug of mercury per kg. Swordfish is nearly as bad, with 0.98ug of mercury per kg. shark is 0.99ug per kg.

On the other end of the range is salmon, which has a tiny 0.01 micrograms of mercury per kg. So if you ate an entire 2.2 pound steak of salmon, you'd get only 0.01 micrograms of mercury. That would easily be flushed by your system and you'd get all the fish oil benefits. A 5oz can of tuna has about 0.15 micrograms of mercury. Again, a small amount for the benefits that you get.

Still, this does mean you need to be aware. Pregnant woman are advised only to have tuna twice a week - but they are advised to *eat* healthy fish. The fish oils are important for the growing fetus.

The only remaining source of mercury in the US diet might surprise you. A 2008 report by the Washington Post found that about half of all high fructose corn syrup tested had mercury in it. The response from the food industry? "Oh, we stopped using those mercury-laden varieties a few years ago." A few YEARS AGO?? They've been feeding everyone mercury in their soda, salad dressing, candy, cookies, and so on, and didn't think of mentioning it? Even recent tests still find mercury in some. The lesson here is to avoid ALL high fructose corn syrup - the stuff just isn't good for you at all, never mind when it has mercury in it.

So to summarize, remove all fillings and get rid of that mercury exposure. Remove all high fructose corn syrup. Then balance your weekly fish intake so that you get healthy fish oils while minimizing the mercury you get there.

Mercury Amalgam Removal - Main Page
History of Mercury in Dental Work
Mercury vs White Fillings
Dangers of Mercury
Safe Levels of Mercury
Removal of Mercury Fillings - my story
Mercury Chelation After Amalgam Removal

Lisa's Biology Pages