Thanks to Jeremy Piven, mercury poisoning is finally getting some much-needed attention. The Entourage actor detailed his ordeal with mercury poisoning — from the fatigue to the 3-day hospitalization — on ABC’s Good Morning America yesterday.

Of course, this health risk could have been easily avoided. Yet Piven is hardly the only American adult who was blithely unaware of the potential for mercury poisoning from eating too much big fish. After all, the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t exactly been keen to bring this issue to people’s attention. In fact, just a day before Piven’s interview, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group noted the FDA’s secret attempt to do away with some government warnings about high-mercury content fish altogether!

EWG says it got “internal documents from the federal Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency that showed a secret FDA effort to promote unlimited fish consumption and drop government warnings that some popular fish — tuna, swordfish and mackerel — are high in mercury.” The reason? FDA’s too heavily influenced by fish industry lobbyists, EWG says.

While the FDA ended up scrapping that effort, getting the news out about limiting consumption of big fish has been left to environmental and consumer safety groups like EWG. So in addition to pushing for stronger government warnings about the risk of mercury poisoning, EWG’s put out consumer education tools like its tuna calculator, a handy web app that lets people figure out exactly how much canned tuna they can eat a week.

Avoiding mercury poisoning doesn’t have to mean cutting seafood out of your life. Many low-mercury seafoods — such as shrimp and wild salmon — are much safer to eat. To make sure you’re eating the safest fish that also aren’t endangered species, refer to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood Guide.

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