Turns out that if you're eating fish, you're eating mercury. A U.S. Geological Survey recently sampled fish taken from 291 streams across the country and, reports the Associated Press, "[t]he toxic substance was found in every fish sampled." And nearly a quarter of the samples had mercury levels exceeding what the Environmental Protection Agency has declared as safe. It's not a new problem. Alaska and Wyoming are the only two states that have not issued mercury-related fish-consumption advisories.
Most of the mercury comes from coal-fired power plants's smokestacks. Consumed, it can damage your nervous system and cause learning disabilities in children. The biggest concentrations of mercury are found in the South, along the coasts of the Carolinas, Florida, and Lousiana, and in the largemouth bass near Fairview Crossroads, South Carolina.
Is anybody doing anything about it? The Bush administration appeased the coal industry by drafting plans that would replace the installation of mercury-reduction equipment with "pollution credits," a scheme rejected recently by a federal appeals court. The Obama administration is said to be drawing up new regulations.