To the editor:

In the article, “Three Scientists Warn against Eating Seafood” (WWF Sept. 06) it was stated that what was promoted as a panel discussion by “three public health experts” on “the pros and cons of eating wild and farmed fish from the Gulf of Maine and other regions of the world” turned out to be three separate lectures on the cons of eating wild and farmed fish.

Yes, there was a poor choice of speakers, for there are others that would not have agreed with the “scary” tone of the three speakers.

As an example, I will comment on what Rice is reported to have said: “The EPA recommends one fish meal per week for adults, but Rice said one can of tuna contains 130 percent of the safe level of mercury. `It’s easy to get too much mercury,’ Rice said. `The EPA’s safe level is bad advice.’ ”

Some facts regarding the mercury issue that Rice apparently decided not to discuss follow.

The EPA’s mercury reference dose of 5.8 ppb mercury in blood is the lowest in the world. The EPA’s reference dose (Rfd) is based solely on calculating possible risks, and as such ignores the potential health benefits of eating fish. This is especially important since fish is an important part of a healthy diet.

A fact that is usually not discussed is that the Rfd is well below the EPA’s mercury benchmark dose level (BMDL) of 58 ppb… Only if the BMDL of 58 ppb for blood is exceeded is there a realistic potential for a nonclincial negative impact to occur in children…

Also, the EPA has cautioned the public not to confuse the “reference dose” with the term “safety factor.” …

Also it is key to note that no study has found mercury levels above BMDLs in U.S. women or children, even among those who eat more then the recommended number of fish meals.

Mercury levels in tuna are reported to have not changed since 1971. Models had predicted an increase in tuna due to increasing mercury emissions…

Since 1990, national (U.S.) mercury emissions have been reduced from over 300 tons to less than 100 tons (EPA data). However, mercury levels remain elevated in fish. Although U.S. mercury emissions are expected to continue to decrease, world emissions will not for some time.

Phil Sandine

Stockton Springs