It was announced yesterday that the EPA completed the first-ever national standards in an effort to reduce the amount of toxins being produced by power plants, the largest pollution source in the U.S., which emit toxins like mercury, arsenic, acid gas, cyanide, and others.
When mercury is in the air, it can then be transferred to lakes, streams and other bodies of water through rain or snow. Just as it is harmful for humans to breathe in air contaminated with mercury, it’s also harmful for fish, plants and other aquatic life to consume it. When mercury is consumed by fish, it winds up in our food chain as it is consumed by other carnivorous fish and by humans.
For years Americans have been cautioned against eating too much of some fish, and avoiding other varieties altogether. Care2.com shares a fish mercury calculator to show which fish is most safe. AmericanPregnancy.org lists shark, orange roughy, and ahi tuna on the “avoid” list. They advise that high-mercury fish like sea bass, canned tuna, and grouper can be eaten in no more than three six-ounce servings in a month. Low-mercury fish, like cod, lobster, and mahi mahi, can be consumed in six six-ounce servings in a month. The fish with the lowest mercury contamination can be eaten in six-ounce servings twice a week, which is a popular nutritionist recommendation. These fish include catfish, clams, oysters, salmon, and tilapia.
When eaten, the toxic chemicals that are leached into the bodies of fish and shellfish are then transferred to our bodies, where mercury poisoning can be responsible for illnesses, like bronchitis and asthma attacks, and even death. The White Houses cited $90 billion in “health and economic benefits to society.”
- Up to 11,000 premature deaths
- 2,800 cases of chronic bronchitis
- 4,700 heart attacks
- 130,000 asthma attacks
- 5,700 hospital and emergency room visits
- 540,000 days when people miss work or school.
“These sensible new standards were developed with extensive input from the public as well as industry and can be implemented with widely available and cost-effective pollution control technology,” said the White House in its statement. The new standards are the culmination and completion of 20 years worth of work.
No doubt, in the days ahead, this will present another opportunity for bipartisanship to rear its head. At DietsInReview.com, Jason Knapfel explained one reason for the anticipated divisiveness – “Republicans and industry opponents claim that the measures are so extreme that they will cause rolling blackouts throughout the country.” The White House defends that an independent study from the Department of Energy “shows clearly that is not the case.”