Narrator: This is Science Today. Mercury is a toxic metal that is released into the air from power plants and certain industrial processes. It stays in the air for quite a while, giving it a chance to precipitate out into the water with the rain, where it then builds up in fish. Amy Kyle, an environmental health researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, says this process is called bioaccumulation.
Kyle: Once it gets into fish, it just stays there. It's not eliminated very fast, so fish can have concentrations of mercury in their tissue that can be hundreds of thousands or a million times higher than in the water. And people are exposed to mercury, particularly methyl mercury, which is the type we're concerned about here - by eating fish.
Narrator: Kyle conducted a study that found that 8 percent of American women of childbearing age have levels of blood mercury that are higher than recommended by the EPA.
Kyle: So it is a public health need to do some more testing of commercial fish and give women some good advice about what are the lower mercury fishes in their area. It will also vary from area to area.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.