Here’s bad new for the Capital’s fish lovers. Fifty six varieties of fish in West Bengal — a major supplier to the Capital — contain dangerous levels of mercury, a poisonous heavy metal.
This is the finding of a study titled Silver Poison in Fish Platter, conducted by Delhi-based NGO ‘Toxics Link’ in collaboration with Kolkata-based NGO ‘DISHA’.
The study report, released on Friday, states that the analysed fish samples contained up to three times of the mercury level considerred ‘safe’ under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA) and Rules, 1954.
The researchers collected 264 fish samples from across West Bengal and found 79 per cent had ‘non-negligible’ amounts of mercury in them.
Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that affects the nervous system. “Even more dangerous is the presence of the chemical methyl mercury. In all, 129 samples showed presence of this deadlier form in amounts considered dangerous,” said Ravi Agarwal, Director, Toxics Link.
The group had conducted a similar study — When Fins Sparkle with Poison — last year. “This time, we’ve found mercury in more varieties and the concentration is more too,” said Abhay Kumar, researcher with Toxics Link.
The findings have serious implications for Delhiites health. The Capital sources 10-15 per cent of its fish from Bengal, said Mehboob Khan of Delhi Fish Poultry and Eggs Marketing Board in Ghazipur.
Bengal may not be Delhi’s chief fish supplier but the contamination pattern is likely to be similar everywhere, said researchers. “Our aim was to study and establish the contamination pattern, which is mostly true of any state,” said Shantanu Chacraverti, Lead Researcher of DISHA. “Children and pregnant women are the most vulnerable. In the West, there are advisories to women to not eat certain fish infamous for mercury contamination,” said Chacraverti.