There’s trouble in tuna town. A new study highlights even more doom and gloom with the news that toxic pollutants have been found in fish from all over the world, a clear indication that environmental destruction doesn’t discriminate against geographical boundaries. However, the new report also includes a little bit of a silver lining, and it’s just not a shiny fishing lure in the distance.
Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California-San Diego published a report this week in the journal PeerJ, detailing the study of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in seafood samples from across the world’s oceans. The pollutants, stemming from agricultural and industrial applications, include DDT, mercury, flame retardants, coolants, and other chemicals. The toxic agents find their way into the world’s oceans, and wind up in the consumable meat of marine fish to varying levels. To arrive at this conclusion, the research team evaluated hundreds of peer-reviewed articles from 1969-2012.
About that silver lining? As it turns out, the concentrations of POPs have actually been steadily decreasing over the last 30 years. “This means that the typical fish that you consume today can have approximately 50 percent of the concentration of most POPs when compared to the same fish eaten by your parents at your age,” said the study’s lead author, Lindsay Bonito. “But there still remains a chance of getting a fillet as contaminated as what your parents ate.”
Once upon a time, the only troubling pollutant in fish was mercury. Now marine fish are likely to contain varying amounts of many other harmful chemicals as well. Despite the declining concentrations, it sounds like one more compelling reason to avoid seafood.
Images via Shutterstock and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego