Mercury in Your Town, In Your Fish, and Your Teeth (and what we can do about it)

I’ve written about mercury in fish, dental sealants, and in high fructose corn syrup here on this blog. It is clear to me that we need better regulations of mercury from the multiple exposures we receive regularly. That’s where Earthjustice and hopefully the EPA is stepping up to the plate.

Earthjustice started a Mercury campaign called Cleaning Up Mercury, Protecting Our Health, and they have loads of information on the site that is helpful to all busy parents– and ways to take action to protect all of us from mercury pollution and the health problems it causes.

You can find out where mercury emitting cement kilns are located in our nation, and read about the health effects on the communities that surround them.

There is a very informative section with an interview from Dr. Jane Hightower, a doctor who authored the book Diagnosis: Mercury, answering common questions about this toxin. Such as:

Do I Need to Replace Mercury Fillings?

It’s generally not necessary to remove your mercury fillings. The use of mercury-based fillings has declined to about 30% of all fillings in the U.S. Other countries have eliminated their use completely. If you are seeing your dentist for a routine filling, or replacement of old fillings, ask if he or she uses non-mercury based fillings.”

She writes also about how the regulation of mercury has been stalled by bad research from manufacturer’s scientists. There is alot of money at stake here, and like every other major pollutant, chemical, or toxin, many corporations, industries and lobbies have a lot at stake in this debate. They’ve successfully muddied the waters and stalled the time table for significant change. And meanwhile, thousands of people are exposed to mercury everyday, from multiple sources. According to Dr.Jane Hightower,

“Wherever mercury has been, there has been an incredible amount of money to be made or lost. Coal fired power plants are currently the largest polluters of mercury today. Other polluters have also weighed in on the issue and lobbied for lax controls, no regulation, and no warning to the people. The fisheries industry has fought long and hard to sell their product despite the mercury content. The FDA has had to sort through flawed research provided by industry funded scientists, and bad data out of a poisoning that occurred in Iraq that set our current standards for mercury in fish. This has resulted in a murky advisory, and little or no testing of the mercury content of the suspect large predatory fish that are in our markets.”

What do we do? Thankfully, Earthjustice gives us a way to take action to protect our families from mercury. Linda Jackson at the EPA is committed to regulating mercury emissions, especially in the cement kilns that emit the high levels of this toxic substance into our air and water. Send her an email to support her commitment and to urge her to move forward quickly to protect our children from the dangers of mercury pollution that can “impair a child’s ability to walk, talk, read, write and learn. Mercury also interferes with the brain and nervous system and can affect blood pressure, fertility, can cause memory loss and tremors.”

Watch the video embedded above to see the cement kilns in the Seattle area and their impacts on local waterways and communities. The site also has a game to learn about which fish contain the most mercury, and recipes that lessen your family’s exposure as well.

Thanks to Earthjustice for this valuable information, and for fighting for a healthy environment for all of us.

4 Responses to Mercury in Your Town, In Your Fish, and Your Teeth (and what we can do about it)

  1. Anonymous April 30, 2009 at 1:11 pm #

    Thanks for the link to Dr. Jane Hightower's site. The list of symptoms of mercury poisioning mirrored some symptoms that I've had for the past two weeks. Two weeks ago, a CFL lightbulb was shattered while still in the socket while I was underneath it. Although the amount of mercury should not have been harmful, the doctor thinks that I am sensitive to it and thus may be showing signs of toxicity even at very low amounts. Am waiting for the results of the blood tests. –Ave

  2. Katy Farber April 30, 2009 at 5:58 pm #

    Ave,My best wishes that the test will come back with some good results for you. There is that risk with CFLs that I really wish did not exist. Did you clean it up with gloves? I am glad the post was helpful, and good luck to you. Katy

  3. Anonymous May 1, 2009 at 6:41 am #

    Katy,I did clean up with gloves but since the bulb was in a ceiling socket when it was shattered, the contents came raining down on me. Luckily, I was wearing a wide brimmed hat and long sleeves. Thus the only sink contact was on my hands — very pink, itchy, painful rash. In retrospect, I should have used duct tape to try & remove the mercury rather than just washing them several times.Really wish, there was a better option for lighting. After this experience, I'm almost ready to switch back to regular light bulbs. Considering that we don't have lots of electronics, don't used the clothes dryer except during the rainiest days of spring & fall, and don't turn on lights except when really needed for reading in the evening, I wonder how much CFL bulbs really save vs the risks. It is bad enough for me to be experiencing this but I would be horrified if my children (preschoolers) had been in the garage. –Ave

  4. Anonymous May 4, 2009 at 6:39 am #

    Katy,Good news. The lab tests came back with a negative mercury reading. Most of the symptoms must have been due to contact with skin, tongue, etc. Now to get up the courage to tackle the rest of the garage clean up. By the way, that socket gets a regular old non-mercury lightbulb from now on. (The ceiling is low in that part of the garage and we often forget that there is a light there because we mostly use the lights from the garage door openers.)–Ave

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