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Mercury: Are You Full of It?
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by Jim Sconyers | 2011

Mercury is all around us and unfortunately in our kids which is not good for their future development and life-time successes!

If you’re like me, i.e., of a “certain generation,” about all we knew about mercury was that it was fun to play with when an old-fashioned thermometer broke in high school Chem lab. My, how times have changed! No more mercury thermometers in the lab — and a lot more information about mercury.

Bizarrely to most of us, it turns out that mercury is all around us. Who’d have guessed? It’s in the air, and in the water, and in the soil. In fact, you may have eaten some for dinner last night! That’s because mercury accumulates in fish — especially seafood like swordfish, shrimp, and salmon, but also in perennial favorite tuna, and even the fish you catch yourself in our rivers and streams.

Dumbing Down Our Kids

Mercury is particularly dangerous for young women who are, or may become, pregnant. When pregnant women are exposed to mercury from eating fish, that mercury is often transmitted to the fetus, where the child’s developing brain is put at risk. The child can have impaired brain function, learning disorders, and, to put it bluntly, lowered IQ as a result.

We’re Number One ... Almost

Most of the mercury that we’re exposed to comes from coal-burning power plants.

• In 2009, West Virginia ranked fourth in the nation for mercury emissions from power plants, with a total of 6,795 pounds.

• For individual power plants, Dominion’s Mount Storm Power Station ranked ninth, with 1,571 pounds, from among hundreds of power plants.

Data Source: DIRTY ENERGY’S ASSAULT ON OUR HEALTH: MERCURY, Environment America Research & Policy Center, January 2011.

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