Photo Marshall Astor @ flickr.
Two "facts" are repeated endlessly in the Internet-based news stories about Jeremy Piven, the celebrity and actor who left the David Mamet production "Speed the Plow" due to his doctor's report that he had exceedingly high levels of mercury in his blood and possible mercury toxicity. The first "fact" is that Piven got high mercury levels from recently eating too much sushi and unnamed Chinese herbs. He reportedly experienced extreme fatigue, heaviness in his limbs, dizziness and neuro-muscular dysfunction. The second "fact" given in most stories is that Mamet spoke to the actor after he had left the show and then pronounced that Piven was "leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer." Ha ha.
Thermometers the least of our mercury problems
Mamet's statement was funny, but mercury toxicity is no joke. Undoubtedly, Piven's alleged (two-meal-per-day) sushi habit could have pushed his organic mercury levels up, experts say. It's absurd, however, for multitudes of stories to focus so heavily on "sushi abuse" when we are all exposed to and ingesting mercury, both organic and inorganic, from multiple environmental sources, including the mercury amalgams in our teeth. And it's even more absurd that as Piven's and other cases of real mercury poisoning come to light, FDA is considering removing some of its mercury warnings for pregnant women and children regarding fish consumption. (By the way, the EPA thinks the FDA is absurd, too).
Mercury poisoning prevalent
According to Mercury Policy Project, both mercury-contaminated seafood, and people eating enough to show poisoning effects, are becoming common. So why is the FDA considering removing mercury warnings from seafood - including swordfish, tilefish, and tuna? Simply because the FDA believes the health benefits of fish outweigh the dangers of mercury ingestion.
Facts about mercury we all should know
According to Dr. Jane Hightower, author of Diagnosis: Mercury Money Politics and Poison we do have to worry about fish, and either keep within limits (2 fish meals per week), and/or concentrate on the least contaminated (generally smaller fish) species. We also need to take into account coal-burning power plants, mining, waste incinerators, hospital crematoria, cement factories, thimerosol, chemical plants, fungicides, chlor-alkali plants, mercury amalgams, switches, gauges, CFLs, and of all things, shipwrecks contributing mercury pollution to our planet.
To keep mercury toxicity from sushi (or other fish abuse) at bay, go to the web-based calculator to see whether your next meal is low, medium, or high on the toxicity scale. In addition, you can read about the Zero Mercury Campaign and efforts to create a UNEP framework for reducing humans exposure to mercury. Though many in the showbiz industry doubt that Piven truly suffered from mercury toxicity, we'll give him the benefit of the doubt -and no more seafood for some weeks to come! Via: Ecorazzi
author note: Mamet's quote was corrected above and linked to NYT source.