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The Green Life: Is There Mercury in Your Sushi? A New App Lets You Know.

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December 08, 2011

Is There Mercury in Your Sushi? A New App Lets You Know.

Safe Sushi appSushi lovers with smart phones have something new to chew on. A new app from the Sierra Club, called Safe Sushi, lets restaurant-goers sort types of sushi by the amount of mercury that's likely to be in each kind of fish. Each menu option gets ranked as having high, moderate, or low toxicity. Perhaps not surprisingly, tuna-based sushi tops the app's list of most dangerous options.

The app's Android release comes during the Club's Mercury Awareness Week, while the iPhone version will be released Dec. 16, the same day that President Obama is expected to issue the first nationwide protections against mercury from coal plants, which could cut 90% of the toxic emissions.

"We're really excited about this," said Kyle Boelte, one of the app's developers.

The app took about two months to create and has a mini-directory — listed either A-to-Z or by toxicity level — of the most popular types of sushi (38 kinds are listed), which renders it useful at almost any place where sushi is sold. The developers made sure to ask a nearby sushi-restaurant owner for his opinion about what to include. "There's all this sushi, but what do people actually eat?" Boelte said.

The purpose of the app, Boelte added, is "to help protect people who eat seafood." It includes an educational component which explains how mercury in the environment originates from burning coal and ultimately ends up in our bodies.

Using the app, you get reminded, too, that even though a dish may be low in mercury, it still might not be the eco-friendliest choice: There are indications to let you know which fish tend to be harvested unsustainably.

--Avni Nijhawan / image courtesy Kristen Kong

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