They belong either in the ocean or on the harzardous waste dump!

Isn’t it ironic that shark fin soup, which is believed to be an aphrodisiac, can actually make people infertile and impotent, because of the very high methyl-mercury content in shark meat?

A scientific study from the German University in Mainz, has come up with frightening but interesting results: Prof. Dr. Klaus Heumann from the University in Mainz, the inventor of the newly patented method of analysis, has found an alarming concentration of up to 1,400 micro grams of methyl-mercury in one kilogram (2.2 lbs) of blue shark steak. That means that a normal portion of 250 grams could contain 350 micrograms of the deadly poison. The legal limit, set by the toxicology department of the EPA, is 0.1 microgram per kilogram of body weight. A person weighing 155 lbs would therefore get 50 times the legal amount in one single portion of shark steak. The legal amount being 7 micrograms.

Shark meat is sold in the US either as “blue shark steak”, “mako steak”, “steakfish”, “gray fish”, “white fish” or “cape steak”.
Inorganic mercury is converted into biologically active methyl-mercury by microbes that live on the bottom of the ocean. It is then concentrated in the bodies of fish, where it never dissolves. Since sharks eat a lot of fish in their relatively long life span, they carry a very highly concentrated amount of methyl-mercury in their bodies, which also does not dissolve during their very long lifetime.

“Between 1953 and 1965 over a hundred adult men and women developed symptoms of central nervous system disorders such as ataxia, alterations in gait, tremors, altered sight and sensation. In 1955 near the Minamata Bay area of Kyushu, Japan, there was a large influx of cases of severe neurological disorders in newborn children. There were cases of cerebral palsy, some children were diplegic and others were tetraplegic. They were all mentally handicapped; some villages had 6 – 12% of their newborns affected. Together, these disorders are now known as Congenital Minamata Syndrome. In 1959, it was found that mercury was being dumped into the bay by a plant of the Chisso Corporation.

“Mehtyl-mercury is a killer”, says Prof Dr. Herman Kruse from the University in Kiel, “it is one of the biologically most active and dangerous poisons for humans. It works like a Trojan Horse, which can easily work its way through all safety barriers of the human body. Something that most other poisons cannot do as easily.”
Methyl-mercury damages the brain and other organs of the poisoned body. Even the diaplacental barrier, the dividing mechanism between a mother’s blood and that of an embryonic fetus cannot stop it and that will lead to intra uterine methyl-mercury poisoning.

It can also result in kidney damages, influence fertility, and in higher doses even be fatal. In the last 30 years Minamata Disease has claimed at least 3,000 lives, mostly through consumption of fish, poisoned with methyl-mercury. There are probably a lot more deaths that could be contributed to methyl-mercury but the testing methods have never been as accurate as the one, which has now been developed in Germany.

The German organization “Sharkproject” has initiated this new study by Prof. Dr. Heumann and has published it on August 20th, 2005.

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