MANILA – While seafood is perceived as a healthy alternative to meat because of its low-fat and protein-rich composition, an expert warned of high levels of toxins in these food items due to water pollution not only in the Philippines but across the globe.
Toxilogist Dr. Romeo Quijano said the high level of mercury is not the only danger in eating fish like tuna or salmon.
“Maraming lason na ngayon na kinakain natin na galing sa dagat, at dahil na rin sa pagkasira ng ating kapaligiran dahil binuhusan ng husto ng ating lipunan ang napakaraming lason na hindi natin masyado pinapansin sa mga nakaraan na taon,” he told radio dzMM on Tuesday.
According to Quijano, the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan also contributed largely to the risk of eating seafood.
“Natitiyak ko na ang tuna at salmon ay halos kontaminado na sigurado ‘yan dahil ang tuna ay umiikot sa Dagat Pasipiko,” he said.
He also noted that studies showed a significant rise in blood diseases, infant mortality and thyroid diseases in Japan and the US linked to seafood consumption.
Quijano said he and his family have completely stopped eating tuna after the Fukushima incident.
“Dati kumakain kami dahil mercury pa lang ang pollutant. Pero noong kasama na ‘yung radiation ng Fukushima, pinatigil ko na ang pamilya ko,” he said.
Quijano advised those who are on a diet high on seafood to stick to small fish because it reduces the risk of exposure to mercury.
“Ang malalaking isda ay mas nakokontamina ng lason katulad ng mercury, kumakain kasi sila ng maliliit na isda at naiipon ang lason sa katawan nila… Habang mas maliit ‘yung isda, mas maliit ‘yung kontaminasyon,” he said.
He also advised the public to be more vigilant in purchasing seafood to ensure that it did not come from areas where industrial activities are rampant.
Quijano said he has long been pushing for an extensive monitoring system so that consumers will be aware of how safe it is to consume seafood that comes from a specific area.
“Kaya dapat tayo ay may monitoring para mabigyan ng guide ang ating mamamayan kung saan ‘yung pinakamataas na polusyon para mabigyan ng solusyon,” he said.
Quijano added that if one cannot help but eat seafood regularly, meals should be balanced by also eating vegetables with high levels of anti-toxins such as malunggay, ginger and garlic.
Quijano earlier said studies showed that seafood from Manila Bay could cause cancer and brain damage due to toxic chemicals.
But Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director Asis Perez said there is no sufficient information to come up with that conclusion.
UP Marine Science Institure (MSI) director Gil Jacinto also said they have also yet to conduct studies that could prove that toxic chemicals present in Manila Bay could indeed cause cancer.