Thursday, February 09, 2006


This is not good (from HuffPo):

Mad Hatters and Quicksilver Hares

In February 2003, the EPA reported that one American woman in twelve had elevated mercury levels in her body. In December of that year, the agency corrected its findings and reported that one in every six American women was at risk, and that by eating more than three servings of fish per week, even women who "might become pregnant" placed their children at a greater risk of lowered intelligence and developmental disabilities.

A lot of skepticism was expressed about these findings. So the Sierra Club joined in a nationwide clinical study by Drs. Steven Patch and Richard Maas, from the Environmental Quality Institute at the University of North Carolina-Asheville. They planned to test an unprecedented number of Americans for mercury body concentrations. The Sierra Club asked members of the New Hampshire legislature, delegates to our Summit and folks going to beauty salons and barber shops all over America, to get tested by giving us a hair sample. More than 6,600 people of all ages and from 50 states participated.

Today, Patch and Maas released their findings. The interim report found mercury levels exceeding the EPA’s recommended limit of one microgram of mercury per gram of hair in one in five women of childbearing age tested -- more than the EPA's previous estimates. While this sample might contain a larger number of women at risk than the population at large (because women who love fish might have been more concerned and thus more likely to get tested), it still confirms that the number of women with too much mercury in their bodies is enormous. Mercury contamination is of particular concern for women of childbearing years (16 to 49 years old) and their small children (under the age of six), because mercury exposure in the womb can cause neurological damage and other health problems.

"In the samples we analyzed, the greatest single factor influencing mercury exposure was the frequency of fish consumption," said Dr. Steve Patch. "We saw a direct relationship between people’s mercury levels and the amount of store-bought fish, canned tuna fish or locally caught fish people consumed."

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