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Mercury Contamination in Fish

PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY

Guide to Mercury in Sushi

Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should be especially careful about eating sushi. Many of the fish chosen for sushi are the apex predators of the fish food chain, which means they can bear high concentrations of mercury. The following list highlights sushi choices highest and lowest in mercury.

LOWER MERCURY

Akagai (ark shell) 1
Anago (conger eel) 1
Aoyagi (round clam)
Awabi (abalone) 1
Ayu (sweetfish)
Ebi (shrimp)*
Hamaguri (clam)
Hamo (pike conger; sea eel) 1
Hatahata (sandfish)
Himo (ark shell) 1
Hokkigai (surf clam)
Hotategai (scallop)*
Ika (squid)
Ikura (salmon roe)
Kaibashira (shellfish)
Kani (crab)
Karei (flatfish)
Kohada (gizzard shad)
Masago (smelt egg)
Masu (trout)
Mirugai (surf clam)
Sake (salmon)
Sayori (halfbeak) 1
Shako (mantis shrimp)
Tai (sea bream) 1
Tairagai (razor-shell clam) 1
Tako (octopus)
Tobikko (flying fish egg)
Torigai (cockle)
Tsubugai (shellfish)
Unagi (freshwater eel) 1
Uni (sea urchin roe)

HIGH MERCURY

Ahi (yellowfin tuna)
Aji (horse mackerel) 1
Buri (adult yellowtail) 1
Hamachi (young yellowtail) 1
Inada (very young yellowtail) 1
Kanpachi (very young yellowtail) 1
Katsuo (bonito) 1
Kajiki (swordfish)*
Maguro (bigeye*, bluefin* or yellowfin tuna)
Makjiki (blue marlin)*
Meji (young bigeye*, bluefin* or yellowfin tuna)
Saba (mackerel)
Sawara (Spanish mackerel)
Seigo (young sea bass)*
Shiro (albacore tuna)
Suzuki (sea bass)*
Toro (bigeye*, bluefin* or yellowfin tuna)

* Fish in Trouble! These fish are perilously low in numbers or are caught using environmentally destructive methods. To learn more, see the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Blue Ocean Institute, both of which provide guides to fish to enjoy or avoid on the basis of environmental factors.

1. Mercury levels specific to these fish were not available and instead were extrapolated from fish with similar feeding patterns.

Sources for NRDC's guide: The data for this guide to mercury in fish comes from two federal agencies: the Food and Drug Administration, which tests fish for mercury, and the Environmental Protection Agency, which determines mercury levels that it considers safe for women of childbearing age.

About the mercury-level categories: The categories on the list are determined according to the following mercury levels in the flesh of tested fish.

  • Lower mercury: Less than 0.29 parts per million
  • High mercury: More than 0.3 parts per million
  • Learn About Mercury and Its Effects
  • Know Where It's Coming From
  • Protect Yourself and Your Family
  • Working to Reduce Mercury Pollution

Mercury Guides

Trim your intake of mercury with these useful guides.

Plus:

Sushi Wallet Card

Wallet Card

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, use this guide to learn which fish used in sushi have low levels of mercury.

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