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Selling the Right to Emit Mercury into My Breastmilk

One item on today's to-do list is to make a doctor's appointment to get my mercury levels checked. Since David's angioplasty in June, we have substantially increased our intake of fish, especially coldwater fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, this despite rising concerns about unsafe levels of mercury in the fish we eat. I had been thinking about this problem and had decided to have my mercury levels checked, and probably Elizabeth's too. Mine probably won't be elevated because I'm nursing and would therefore be passing dietary mercury on to the baby.

So you can imagine my upset when I encountered this article in this morning's news:

U.S. Proposes Easing Rules on Emissions of Mercury

The Bush administration is proposing that mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants should not be regulated in the same way as some of the most toxic air pollutants,  reversing  a stance on air pollution control taken by the Clinton administration in 2000. 

. . . The agency is suggesting   that mercury emissions be removed from the most stringent regulations of the Clean Air Act that have been used to limit  the most toxic air pollutants. Among those are asbestos, chromium and lead, which have been known to cause cancers and neurological disorders.

. . .The upcoming regulations have been the subject of intense lobbying by utilities that argue the rules would force them to switch to more expensive fuels or install  costly  equipment on power plants to reduce the amount of mercury being spewed into the air.

"If you were to regulate mercury in an overly inflexible way, the result would be substantial fuel switching from coal to natural gas," said Scott Segal, the spokesman for the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, an industry group formed by some of the largest energy companies. The group welcomed the looser interpretation for mercury. "The Clean Air Act is flexible and pragmatic enough to have different reservoirs or authority for dealing with mercury,"  Mr. Segal said.

Under the  proposal submitted  to the White House last week,  power plants  would be able to buy and sell the rights to emit mercury into the air. A similar trading of emission credits is currently in use to handle sulfur dioxide, the pollutant that is a component of acid rain. In addition, the agency's  proposal would push back the effective date of the new regulations to 2010 at the earliest.

Let me be blunt: Rising levels of mercury in the environment are a serious and growing problem our supply of foods which provide DHA, an Omega 3 fatty acid essential to brain development. ANYONE WHO IS BREASTFEEDING, PREGNANT, THINKING ABOUT BECOMING PREGNANT, OR WHO KNOWS ANYONE WHO MIGHT should be REALLY UPSET about this proposal! I'm planning to write to the White House, the EPA, and my congress people today. You should, too.

* FDA: Mercury Levels in Seafood Species
* The situation is even worse: Mercury  In Fish -- The FDA Knows And Doesn't Tell!
* And see also that radical leftist propaganda rag, The Reader's Digest.