Most of the pollution is washed away and will end up in the ocean eventually. If the pollutant is persistent it will remain in the ocean creating a situation where fish toxicity is a big concern. The concentration in the ocean will be low but the plankton and algae will filter the water and then the bioaccumulation will begin.
When higher organisms feed on these microorganisms they will consume all of the filtered toxins from the seawater as well and as we move up the food chain the concentration of the environmental toxins will build up. The end result will be that although the levels of pollutants will be minuscule when measured directly in the seawater when measured in the top predatory fish in some cases the levels will be severely toxic. Eating these types of fish will be severely pro-inflammatory, neurotoxic, pro cancerous, and toxic in general. The pollution today is so great that even if we disregard all of the other bad effects of meat consumption that I have analyzed in other articles and books and topics just human-made pollution is enough to be a reason to never touch anything that comes out of the ocean especially if you are pregnant or if you are a child. Fish is everything except a healthy meat source. Farm-raised fish is, if you can believe this, even worse because of the conditions in the fish tanks and the food pallets that are used as feed for the fish. It is highly unlikely that you will be able to find organically raised farmed fish on an economically and environmentally sustainable basis and even then the condition in these fish tanks will be filled with bacteria and will be filled with pollution.
Scientists in the study I already mentioned about fish consumption, methylmercury, and child neurodevelopment (1) in the article about fish consumption and mercury also included a warning for the consumption of Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in conclusion. Omega-3 or chemically Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a fatty acid that has a role as a structural component of the cerebral cortex primarily but also the entire human brain, retina, and skin. Meaning if you cut out fish from the diet you need to find some other source of omega-3 fatty acids that are not from fish. They know that people believe in eating fish as a healthy habit because of healthy omega-three acids so they must find another source. They are correct and we do need Omega 3 fatty acids and people will disregard any if not all of my advice because they like to eat meat number one and number two they just need an excuse and number three they do believe that fish is a healthier choice because it lacks the level of saturated fat that pork has and it does have an omega 3 fatty acids that we need for our brain.
However, from where did the fish get omega 3s in the first place I wonder? Supplements like fish oil are heavily polluted as well. America consumes more than 200,000 tons of fish oil a year. They concentrate the omega 3s but also concentrate all pollutants from fish, not just mercury but PCB’s and insecticides, and all others. The molecularly distilled is no different. It is just another scam. Molecular distillation of fish oil can only remove some of the toxins, but most remain. It has a fancy name, but so far it is useful only for lighter organic contaminants (2).
The only possible solution for fish toxicity and toxicity, in general, is to go lower on the food chain. Krill oil should be purer than fish oil. Krill have a high mortality rate and live short and are low on the food chain so they would not have as many pollutants. Going all the way to sea vegetables is the best course without supplementation especially because we can get more other minerals like iodine and phytochemicals when eating sea vegetables in a salad than just taking algae-based or krill-based DHA supplement. Our oceans are by now so polluted that even low-level organisms can be contaminated. Especially after algae blooms and all of the neurotoxins that this form of algae can create.
The wide variety of chemical pollutants is the concern. Even polar bears now have renal lesions, reduced bone mineral density, fatty liver, and chronic inflammation due to fish toxicity (3). The dolphins too (4).
Organohalogen compounds are PCB congeners, DDT and metabolites, chlordane-related compounds, and so on. The effect of POP (Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), or sometimes known as “forever chemicals”) on human health and also on the environment is real, and even if we think that it is something we can ignore the situation is not as such. The international community made the intention to restrict production at the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in 2001. However, the real story is that we cannot. They are an essential part of modern agriculture and different type of industries. Not everything can be recycled and purified. POP can evaporate too and enter into the atmosphere. Because they are resisting breakdown reactions in the air and are stable, they can travel long distances. Then they will fall and be re-deposited. This results in an accumulation of POP in areas far from where they have been used or emitted. They can reach as far as Antarctica and the Arctic Circle. We do not have a clean life anymore because there is no natural way to produce food organically for billions of people on the planet.
Some of the most known POP are for example Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and Dioxins, and Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). PCBs are used in plastics, as additives in paint, in electrical transformers, and capacitors, carbonless copy paper, and as heat exchange fluids. So no plastic and electronics without them. PCB’s are poisonous to fish at high dosages, and correlated with spawning failure at low doses. In humans, PCBs are associated with immune suppression and sterility, and most exposure comes from food. Today one in six couples has trouble conceiving a baby. The number of couples attempting therapeutic methods due to the problem of natural conceiving has risen dramatically in the post WW2 period. A number of 15% of couples that are sterile are more substantial than in the past for example 100 years ago. Sperm counts in the average male have fallen by almost half in the past 60 years. Fertility is lower with all men and women, and as a result 1 in 6 couples are sterile. Many experts blame this fall on the increase in environmental chemicals that have weak estrogen effects, such as DDT and PCB. An increase in estrogen levels in the general water supply, due to the use of the oral contraceptive pills, has also been implicated. There are many chemicals in this world today.
In this study (5) they measured the correlation between sperm count and environmental estrogens. When they talk about environmental estrogens, they do not mean phytoestrogens made by plants but xenoestrogens, pesticides like PCP, DDT, or BPA from plastic, and so on. Most of them were found in fish. Urban fish eaters have the highest average PE and PCB levels. In infertile men, the total motile sperm counts are correlated with their xenoestrogen exposure. They also found substantial correlations between PCB levels and ejaculate volume, motility, vitality, and osmoregulatory capacity. Higher PCB levels were associated with sperm damage (p < 0.05). Phthalates were also significantly higher in the infertile men with higher phthalate levels being correlated with sperm DNA damage. Both PCB and phthalate concentrations were correlated with a decrease in total mobile sperm counts as well. The conclusion was that PCB’s and PE’s (phthalate esters) might be influential in the deterioration of semen quality in the general population with particular attention being made as a contributing factor to infertility in men. Sperm count was something in the line of 10 (mean motile) live mobile count in millions for fish-eaters and above 80 for vegetarians. Around eight times the difference.
If fish toxicity does not make you sterile by lowering sperm count, it will cause reduced testosterone and other pro estrogen diseases both in men and in a woman too like breast cancer, early menopause, endometriosis, and thyroid hormone problems. Many of the pesticides act similarly and have endocrine disruption potential. For example, we know that hypospadias, a birth defect of the penis where the opening is not at the tip but on the other side of the penis is caused by fungicide Vinclozolin (6). Do you still think that eating wild-caught salmon is health-promoting?
Dioxin is an industrial pollutant of Agent Orange story. Dioxins are also created as a byproduct of high-temperature burning. They are emitted when hazardous waste, hospital waste, and municipal waste is burned. Also, conventional combustion creates them like automobile emissions, coal, wood, and peat. They end up in the air and then get washed by rain and end up in the oceans. So are we going to stop driving our cars? We did cut out lead from gasoline, but that is just lead. Dioxins are scientifically proven to be a human carcinogen and have been linked to enzyme and immune disorders as well. In laboratory studies, they were also associated with an increase in congenital disabilities and stillbirths. Adverse health effects may include reduced testosterone, early menopause, endometriosis, cardiovascular disease, altered immune responses, thyroid hormone irregularities, diabetes and metabolism alterations, skin, tooth, and nail abnormalities. During pregnancy, exposure can result in altered thyroid, immune system, brain, and reproductive organ development. Animal food, not just fish but all meat and dairy ass well is the primary source of human exposure to dioxins. EPA started testing Americans for dioxin levels back in 1982. “Only” after three decades of delays in 2012, they released new guidelines that would set limits on the safe exposure of U.S. consumers. The response of the industry was to put political pressure on the White House. American Meat Institute, National Chicken Council, and other industry groups pressured the politicians that they are lobbying that with these new guidelines their products:
“Could arbitrarily be classified as unfit for consumption.”
They used words arbitrarily disregarding the fact that classification is based on scientifically determent dioxin levels found in different food products. In their minds warning consumers about the risk could:
“Scare the crap out of people,” and “Have a significant negative economic impact on all U.S. food producers.”
However, that is not the truth either. According to the FDA, over 95% of dioxin exposure is coming through the dietary intake of animal fats, not all food.
The number of toxic chemicals today that we are exposed to are in the thousands. Most of them are secret. We do not have research on what they do, and nobody is talking. In the period from 2001, the Stockholm Convention list has been expanded to include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) or at least some of the most dangerous ones and also brominated flame retardants and some other compounds. Moreover, all of this is just what is tested. We need to understand that nobody will finance the research into the toxicity of different chemicals primarily in the long run because that is not what is going to increase the profits. Quite the opposite it will just make business more expensive. All of these or most of these toxins and pollutants will end up in oceans and in fish and some will be directly sprayed on produce and some will be eaten by the animals on the farms through animal fed that is also sprayed as well.
My suggestion is to not eat anything that comes out of the sea if it not on the bottom of a food chain. Wild-caught salmon is everything except a health-promoting meal. It is a marketing promoting scam. There are other ways to get your omega 3 fatty acids. Farm-raised fish is even worse and that will be a topic for another article.
Passages selected from a book: “Go Vegan? Review of Science: Part 1” [Milos Pokimica]
- Fish consumption, methylmercury, and child neurodevelopment. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2008 Apr;20(2):178-83
- Simultaneous quantitation of multiple classes of organohalogen compounds in fish oils with direct sample introduction comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography and time-of-flight mass spectrometry. J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Apr 8;57(7):2653-60
- Do Organohalogen Contaminants Contribute to Histopathology in Liver from East Greenland Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus)? Environ Health Perspect. 2005 Nov; 113(11): 1569–1574.
- Anthropogenic and Natural Organohalogen Compounds in Blubber of Dolphins and Dugongs (Dugong dugon) from Northeastern Australia Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 41, 221–231 (2001)
- Role of environmental estrogens in the deterioration of male factor fertility. Fertile Steril. 2002 Dec;78(6):1187-94
- Endocrine disruptors and hypospadias: role of genistein and the fungicide Vinclozolin. Urology. 2007 Sep;70(3):618-210
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