The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare has set the safe level of total mercury at 0.4 parts per million (ppm) for marine foods (the U.S. level is set at 1.0 ppm).
Toothed whales--including porpoise, dolphin, and some whale species--are top predators in the sea life food chain and feed on smaller fish which therefore tend to accumulate higher loads of pollutants such as mercury.
Between 2000 and 2002, a team of scientists led by Tetsuya Endo, a professor in the Department of Clinical Toxicology and Metabolism at the Health Sciences University of Hokkaido, purchased whale meat samples from markets across the country.
The researchers measured total mercury levels and performed genetic analysis to verify the species of each sample. Their findings were published in the 15 June 2003 edition of Environmental Science & Technology.
Samples of Dall's porpoise, the most commonly harvested cetacean in Japan, had an average total mercury level of 1.26 ppm, with the highest sample at 2.51 ppm. Samples of false killer whale had an average total mercury level of 46.9 ppm, with a high of 81.0 ppm.
"This shows that pollution levels in the ocean are at such a bad level that even filter feeders are bioaccumulating some kinds of contaminants," says Frank Cipriano, director of the Conservation Genetics Laboratory at San Francisco State University.
Perhaps even more alarming are the results of a separate study in which the team sampled mixtures of boiled internal organs--sold in packages in retail outlets--for total mercury and essential heavy metals. In samples of boiled small cetacean livers purchased between 1999 and 2001, the researchers found an average total mercury level of 370.0 ppm. Two samples had total mercury levels that topped 1,970.0 ppm.
"These levels are a thousand times greater than the worst samples that we get in predatory fish in the United States," says Charles Santerre, an environmental toxicologist at Purdue University. "With a tuna steak, you might get one part per million of mercury. This problem in Japan is in a different league altogether."
In their report, published in the December 2002 issue of The Science of the Total Environment, Endo and colleagues noted that acute mercury intoxication could result from a single meal of whale internal organs, with effects that can include serious nervous system symptoms, staggering, coma, and death.
They called on the Japanese government to regulate human consumption of whale and dolphin internal organs.
Clearly there are different reasons around the world for mercury contaminants. And slightly different safe dosage levels.
And humans are a lot smaller than whales but a bit bigger than fish and dolphins.
A report from Thor mercury in South Africa described:
The profit motive and poor state control enabled Thor to cut health and safety requirements to
the extent that 28% of the workforce was diagnosed as having mercury poisoning. They
received R800 a month and were uninformed of the potential dangers of and precautions to
take against mercury poisoning.
Employees when sick were either removed to another part of the factory or disposed off. It was stated that when workers recorded high levels of mercury contaminating levels they were advised to drink orange juice in order to expedite the excretion of excess mercury.
According to a worker at Thor Siphiwe Sibiya, “if you touched your lips with your tongue or washed your face there was a bitter taste. My nails went black. Sometimes I would take off my mask to find blood in it. Then my nose bleeding, my hands shaking.”
That's why Thor Margate was closed in the 1980's.
Clearly the toxicity accumulates in flesh from eating fish and other marine life, and being exposed to mercury in various forms - and creates ongoing genetic disorders.
There is in effect no safe level as toxicity builds - and on into future generations.
Thor mercury is one of the most notorious mercury poisoning companies with its legacy in Margate and Africa and several deaths and water pollution detailed over many years.
The EA seem unsure of the problems. TDC simply have no idea of what is happening.
Mercury and Aviation fuel and water supplies quire literally do not mix.
There seems an almost deliberate disregard for safe monitroring to allow Thor and Manston to operate with almost no scrutiny.
In 2006 the Environment Agency recommended fuel interceptors at Manston to afegurard the drinking water and prevent dumping of fuel - with its cocktail of chemicals - into the sea.
Nothing has happened.
TDC deliberately allow Infratil to continue aviation fuel dumping into the sea endangering the population, and simply have no idea what Thor mercury are doing or when the clean-up will continue.
Thanet's drinking water and seawater seems to be deliberately endangered.
Tomorrow: the effects of aviation fuel and Policy #6 electoral reform