FDA Not Testing Gulf Seafood for Mercury, Arsenic or Other Heavy Metals Because “We Do Not Expect to See an Increase Based on this Spill”

Congressman Markey’s subcomittee held a hearing Thursday on seafood and the oil spill.

Markey got the Food and Drug Administration to admit that fish are not being tested from oiled areas:

The FDA also admitted that it is not testing for mercury, arsenic or other toxic heavy metals, because – wait for it – the FDA doesn’t expect to see an increase of these toxins from the oil spill:

But in the real world:

Crude oil contains such powerful cancer-causing chemicals as benzene, toluene, heavy metals and arsenic.


As Bloomberg notes:

“Oil is a complex mixture containing substances like benzene, heavy metals, arsenic, and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons — all known to cause human health problems such as cancer, birth defects or miscarriages,” said Kenneth Olden, founding dean of New York’s CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College, who is monitoring a panel on possible delayed effects.


Benzene, toluene, arsenic, heavy metals and many other components of crude oil … bioaccumulate.

And as the Wall Street Journal noted yesterday:

Researchers said they found high concentrations of benzene, toluene, xylene and other so-called BTEX petroleum compounds that could be traced to the leaking well. They calculated that the plume contained between 5% and 6% of the signature BTEX petroleum hydrocarbons released during the spill.

The FDA’s statement is similar to NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco’s recent assertion that oil doesn’t bioaccumulate in fish, and that fish naturally “degrade and process” the oil.

As a former long-time NOAA scientist points out, NOAA hasn’t exactly been neutral and objective with regards to Gulf oil spill science:

Ian R. MacDonald, an oceanographer at Florida State University … sees this latest incident as part of an ongoing problem.

Lubchenco had previously been a key figure in the patently low-ball estimates for the oil flow, and fervently resisted acknowledging the existence of underwater oil plumes, he said.

“I’ve worked with NOAA essentially all my career and I have many good friends there, and people I respect in the agency, scientists who are really solid,” MacDonald said.

“Throughout this process, it’s been troubling to me to see the efforts of people like that passed through a filter where the objective seems to be much more political and public relations than making comments to inform the public.

“The consistent theme,” MacDonald said, “seems to be to minimize the impact of the oil — and to act as a bottleneck for information.”

Unfortunately, this is how government today operates … its main activity is simply to try to cover up crises.

The FDA also admitted that it is not testing for the most toxic bioaccumulating metabolites of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Hat tip Florida Oil Spill Law.

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