We get mercury in our air from our coal-fired power plants, and guess where it ends up?
On Thursday, March 31, local residents — mostly women — lined up at Toni’s Exquisite Hair in Morgantown to have a small piece of their hair clipped and submitted to a University of Georgia laboratory for mercury exposure testing. The event was well attended by students, moms with young children, and lots of interested women customers in the salon that day. Event attendees expressed concern about the possibility of excessive levels of mercury in their bodies due to environmental pollution. The results of the testing will be forthcoming within the next few weeks.
The Sierra Club sponsored similar events in more than 20 cities across the nation during the month. The national campaign focused on raising awareness of mercury issues as well as urging the EPA to enact strong safeguards for mercury and other air toxins.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that one in six U.S. women of childbearing age has mercury levels in her blood high enough to put her baby at risk of birth defects, including neurological and developmental disorders and learning disabilities. West Virginia has one of the highest rates of mercury pollution from power plants in the nation. While a teaspoon of mercury is enough to poison an entire 20-acre lake, coal-fired power plants in the United States emit hundreds of thousands of pounds of mercury into the atmosphere every year.