Hair testing helps to ensure that the most sensitive people are protected from risk and also alleviates unnecessary concern. Most popular seafood species are very low in mercury.
Seafood is packed with protein, full of nutrients and provides omega-3 fatty acids.

Mercury Hair Testing

MAREX Educates the Public about Safe Seafood Consumption

Consumption Guidelines
When eating fish caught from Georgia waters, it is important to be informed about consumption advisories and recommended dietary limits for local species. Georgia DNR’s Guidelines for Eating Fish from Georgia Waters and the Glynn County Advisory for Fish You Catch and Eat (Spanish version) offer suggestions for a safe, healthy diet of local fish.

Mercury Hair Testing
The University of Georgia Marine Extension Service (MAREX) hair testing program provides understandable and accessible information about the amount of mercury in our bodies. Currently, our lab is able to offer this service to women of childbearing age.

Babies and small children are sensitive to mercury while their brains are developing. Therefore, this information is important for women who are pregnant, nursing, or thinking about becoming pregnant.

If you are not in this sensitive category but are interested in hair testing for another reason (e.g. you frequently eat fish from rivers with fishing advisories), please contact Lisa Liguori, Associate Director of MAREX Advisory Services.

To order a mercury hair test, women should download the UGA MAREX Mercury Hair Testing brochure, take a sample of their hair and mail the hair and completed form along with $20. MAREX will send participants the results of their hair mercury test with an explanation of what their level means.

Facts about Mercury
Mercury is a naturally occurring element, and humans cannot create or destroy it. Coal-burning power plants are the largest human-caused source of mercury emissions in the United States and in the world. Burning hazardous wastes, mining gold, producing chlorine and manufacturing cement also contribute to this global issue.

While there is much that scientists still don’t know about mercury, there is a great deal that they do know. Unfortunately, consumers continue to receive confusing and contradictory information when trying to balance the benefits of healthy seafood consumption with possible risks from contaminants like mercury. The good news is that most popular seafood choices are very low in mercury: shrimp, salmon, pollock, cod, catfish, crab, scallops, clams and oysters, just to name a few.

In addition, since the human body naturally eliminates mercury from its system, a woman who is planning to be pregnant can often lower the amount of mercury in her body quickly by eating low-mercury seafood several times a week. Our outreach materials are designed to empower people to eat fish and seafood with confidence.

When it comes to fish you catch, look for more information about seafood advisories in your area.

To get all the facts about seafood and fish from stores and markets, please see information compiled by Oregon State University, Cornell University and the Universities of Delaware, Rhode Island, Florida and California: www.seafoodhealthfacts.org