Women of childbearing age around the world are being found with startlingly high levels of mercury, which can harm unborn children. According to a study published by IPEN, an NGO network focused on pollutants, found that high levels of the neurotoxin was most widespread among women from the Pacific islands, where fish is frequently eaten. The highest percentage of women affected were found in Indonesia and Kiribati, where fish is not only a staple of the diet but where mercury products are heavily used in mining. The study, the largest of its kind, reports high numbers among women in Tonga, Myanmar, Kenya, and Paraguay; among U.S. women, more than 25 percent of Alaskan females tested showed mercury levels beyond the safe threshold of 1 parts per million.
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