Mercury, George Bush & Your Body

Avatar for mom2noodles
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Mercury, George Bush & Your Body
Mon, 10-25-2004 - 9:28pm

October 25, 2004 | Back Issues
« previous | Mercury Dangers Downplayed in Favor of Power Industry

An interim study released last week by researchers at the
Environmental Quality Institute at the University of North
Carolina (UNC) at Asheville, has found that one-fifth of women
of childbearing age have mercury levels in their hair that
exceed federal health standards.

Clean air protections suffered a substantial setback when the
administration delayed a previously scheduled mercury clean-up
by 10 years. It also suppressed data on how American women and
their unborn children were being harmed by mercury exposure, and
granted unprecedented influence to the coal and oil-fired power
plants responsible for mercury pollution.

Under the Clean Air Act, utilities would have been required to
reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent over four years. Instead,
the Bush administration proposed scaling back and delaying the
clean-up to allow utilities to cut emissions by just 70 percent
over 14 years.

The administration's plan also allows higher polluting companies
to purchase "credits" from those that operate in a cleaner
fashion. Environmental experts argue that such a plan will cause
disproportionate harm to the people who live in proximity to the
dirtier plants.

Environmentalists have noted that 25 mercury-emitting utilities
would benefit by sharing in $2.7 billion in savings created by
the weaker rules. An earlier report by the Union of Concerned
noted that the administration allowed industry
lawyers to write much of the language for the new rules.

There are serious health implications to the delay in reducing
mercury emissions. An analysis by the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) found that 8 percent of women between the ages of
16 and 49 already have blood mercury levels high enough to cause
damage to their unborn children.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in
2000 determined that about 12 percent of women of childbearing
age had mercury levels above the EPA standard.

Preliminary data from the UNC survey, commissioned by Greenpeace
, found that 21 percent of 597 women of childbearing age had
blood mercury levels higher than the EPA's recommended limit.
The Greenpeace-sponsored survey will test some 5,000 people by
the end of next March.

Mercury is known to cause learning and developmental disorders
as a result of prenatal exposure. The EPA report was suppressed
by the agency until leaked by an insider to the Wall Street
Journal. Earlier this year, the EPA announced that 630,000
American newborns were at risk of having unsafe levels of
mercury in their blood.

A recent report by the League of Conservation Voters found that
18 million Americans (including 1.5 million children) in the
country's 12 top-emitting states live within 10 miles of a
coal-fired power plant and are thereby exposed to dangerous
levels of mercury pollution.

"Children today and for generations to come will suffer
needlessly as a result of the administration's environmental
policies," said former EPA Administrator Carol Browner, in a
press release announcing the LCV study.


"Scientific Integrity in Policymaking," Union of Concerned
Scientists, Feb. 2004.
Greenpeace press release, Oct. 20, 2004.
LCV press release, Jun. 24, 2004.


Proudly voting for...

Carrie, Mom of Alex & Anna


iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2003
Mon, 10-25-2004 - 10:19pm
Is this why we're only supposed to eat tuna no more than once



iVillage Member
Registered: 06-22-2003
Tue, 10-26-2004 - 3:06am
For Immediate Release

February 19, 2004

Contact Nicol Andrews or Matt Streit at (202) 226-9019

U.S. Plants Emit Only 1% of Global Mercury

Washington, DC - Studies reveal that despite alarmist claims, reducing emissions from U.S. energy sources would have negligible, if any, effect on mercury levels in fish. In fact, mercury emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants are dwarfed by global contributors.

Overall, estimates show only 1% of total world emissions comes from U.S. utilities. China, on the other hand, is responsible for more than half of the non-U.S. man-made sources of mercury. China's coal-fired power plants already emit more than 495 tons annually, with an expected increase of 40+ tons over the next 2 to 5 years (Atmospheric Environment, 2003).

Studies confirm that while mercury is widespread in the global environment, once again, American ingenuity is leading the way toward reducing overall mercury emissions. Since 1995, U.S. emissions have dropped by a whopping 42%. A decade of drastic decline in mercury is the result of new air pollution control technologies.

Despite these advances, mercury levels in fish have not changed since 1977. Princeton University scientists compared methylmercury in today's tuna with similar tuna caught in 1977 and found no change. The study concluded that mercury taken up by fish does not come from land sources such as power plants (Environmental Science and Technology, 2003).

Regardless of scare tactics and a politically driven attempt to draw a link between fish consumption and U.S. energy production, science tells the truth. This evidence reveals the holes in the faulty, twisted logic used in the name of "protecting" the American public.

Avatar for mom2noodles
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 10-26-2004 - 10:14am

For whatever reason, I can't copy the text here.

Carrie, Mom of Alex & Anna


iVillage Member
Registered: 06-22-2003
Tue, 10-26-2004 - 10:59pm
This topic has caught my attention. I looked at your site. The NRDC is not a neutral site. It has it's own agenda. It sited the Mercury Study Report to Congress. I actually went to read the report. I couldn't copy and paste. It is long, but the summary has some interesting information. See page O-2.

The United States has no control over world wide mercury levels. It only emits 2-3%. There are ongoing studies as to the effects of mercury, but there really isn't anything conclusive yet. Think about all the places in the world where people eat fish everyday where mercury polution is much more than in the US. Their populations are not full of mentaly retarded children. To me it looks like a scare tactic and politics, but what do I know I'm just an evil conservative ;-)

(Side note: John Stossle's book Give me a Break talks about other environmental issues that have been blown way out of proportion.)

Avatar for cl_mom2noodles
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Tue, 10-26-2004 - 11:21pm

Find me a neutral environmental expert LOL.


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-03-2003
Tue, 10-26-2004 - 11:46pm
Amen, sister!
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-22-2003
Wed, 10-27-2004 - 4:56am
--The NRDC is a highly respected enviroronmental institution.--

The NRA is respected by a lot of people too, but it has an agenda. If they posted a report talking about allthe people are not killed because they carry a gun, you would have to take into consideration where the information is coming from.

--Of course, Stossle has a book that claims all the environmental issues are overblown. But think about which issues he includes and which ones are left out.--

I don't know if you read the book, but he is not conservative. He just makes the point that sometimes people make a bigger deal of some things because it makes a good story, or for political advantage. I didn't agree with everything he wrote, but I thought he was fair.

--I don't have time to read the link you posted but I imagine it supports your view that just 3% of the problem is from the USA.--

I don't have a "view" about where mercury comes from. This was the EPA report to congress. I didn't read the whole thing either, but what I did read said there is not any way to know where the mercury in fish is coming from(meaning what country). Yes the US could cut back more, but it wouldn't make any difference to the amount of mercury in fish consumed by Americans (or anyone else).

--Even if that were true, wouldn't it be prudent to reduce that figure? By adding the additional safety features that are currently available and motivating the industries involved to do a better job of keeping things clean, we could make a huge difference in the lives of children- some of whom have yet to be born.--

Why spend more money and send more jobs overseas (which is what companies do when it gets too hard and too expensive to do business in America.) when what the US does in this case won't make a difference. Conservatives aren't against clean air and water. There can be a balance. The point is the Bush Administration is not the cause of mercury poisoning and shouldn't be blamed for every problem in the world.

Avatar for mom2noodles
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Wed, 10-27-2004 - 11:02am

Comparing the NRDC to the NRA, well, let's just say that's apples and oranges.

Carrie, Mom of Alex & Anna