Both JAMA and the EPA have recently published warnings about mercury levels in certain kinds of fish. A Bush administration plan is likely to make the problem worse.

Both these warnings come as Congress is poised to act on a Bush administration plan, called the Clear Skies Initiative, which will slow down the timetable for reducing the main source of mercury — emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Frank O’Donnell, director of the Clean Air Trust, an environmental lobby group, says the mercury data delayed for 10 months the release of the EPA report, which was made public after being leaked to the press.

“But people need to know the power industry is the biggest unregulated source of mercury and that tuna will continue to be risky as long as power plants continue to put out tons of heavy metals,” O’Donnell says. He says he fears war-dominated media coverage could allow the bill to be pushed through without notice.