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Correspondence May 2014 | Volume 122 | Issue 5

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Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1307997R

Fish Consumption and Blood Mercury Levels: Golding et al. Respond

Jean Golding,1 Colin D. Steer,1 Tony Lowery,2 Robert Jones,3 and Joseph R. Hibbeln4

1Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom; 2National Seafood Inspection Laboratory, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Pascagoula, Mississippi, USA; 3Inorganic and Radiation Analytical Toxicology Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA; 4National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

About This Article open

Citation: Golding J, Steer CD, Lowery T, Jones R, Hibbeln JR. 2014. Fish consumption and blood mercury levels: Golding et al. respond. Environ Health Perspect 122:A120–A121;


The authors declare they have no actual or potential competing financial interests.

Published: 1 May 2014

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Obviously our article (Golding et al. 2013) must have been less than clear in leading Groth to assume findings that we had not claimed. For example, he states both that “there was no strong correlation between fish consumption and blood mercury levels” and that we “observed no association between fish intake and blood mercury.” Neither statement is true. We did show that the R2 for total blood mercury associated with seafood consumption was 8.75%, implying a correlation coefficient of about 0.3. The relationship between fish intake and blood mercury was highly significant (p < 0.0001).

The point that we were making in the article was that seafood did contribute to the total blood mercury levels, but that many other dietary items did so as well. The other studies quoted by Groth did not investigate other sources of mercury. However, two studies in the United Kingdom have shown that seafood provides only 25–33% of dietary mercury (Ysart et al. 1999, 2000); although we did not distinguish between types of fish, these authors assayed the mercury content of 500 different samples of seafood, typical of a normal UK diet.

In conclusion we do not disagree with Groth that excessive consumption of fish with high mercury content should be avoided, but would emphasize the overall beneficial effects of fish in general.


Golding J, Steer CD, Hibbeln JR, Emmett PM, Lowery T, Jones R. 2013. Dietary predictors of maternal prenatal blood mercury levels in the ALSPAC birth cohort study. Environ Health Perspect 121:1214–1218; doi: 10.1289/ehp.1206115.

Ysart G, Miller P, Crews H, Robb P, Baxter M, de L’Argy C, et al. 1999. Dietary exposure estimates of 30 elements from the UK Total Diet Study. Food Addit Contam 16:391–403.

Ysart G, Miller P, Croasdale M, Crews H, Robb P, Baxter M, et al. 2000. UK Total Diet Study—dietary exposures to aluminium, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium, tin and zinc. Food Addit Contam 17:775–786.

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