Mercury is a toxic byproduct of industrial activities such as mining, coal burning, and oil production. When pollutants from these activities enter our waterways, they are absorbed and consumed by aquatic plants and fish.
How Do Striped Bass Accumulate Mercury?
Mercury that enters the water is initially absorbed by algae. Fish and other creatures that eat the algae are then exposed to the mercury. Striped bass eat the smaller fish as part of the food chain. Fish are unable to process and expel mercury, so it remains in their system and continues to accumulate as they grow older.
Mercury accumulates as it passes through the food chain as well. Those higher on the chain consume more mercury. Striped bass have few predators and are pretty high on the food chain. It is no surprise then that they often make the list of fish that are higher in mercury.
Who Should Be Cautious?
Fish is the most significant source of mercury exposure for the average person. Overexposure to mercury is dangerous and can result in mercury poisoning, which can damage the nervous system, liver, kidneys, and skin.
The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that every person takes some precautions when consuming fish and seafood.
The FDA recommends that adults consume one 4-ounce serving of striped bass per week. By comparison, some fish that have less mercury exposure, such as cod, salmon, and shrimp, are safe to eat 2-3 times per week.
The FDA recommends that some higher-risk individuals, such as pregnant women and young children, restrict their fish consumption even more or avoid fish altogether.