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Mercury Poisoning Is a Growing Menace

Environment  (tags: animals, climate-change, conservation, ecosystems, environment, globalwarming, habitat, habitatdestruction, healthconditions, humans, Mecury poisons, oceans, pollution, Sustainabililty )

- 1867 days ago -
As the US knows to its cost, coal-fired power is a major cause of mercury pollution. The world needs a treaty tough on emissions.

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Kit B (276)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 12:54 pm
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (photo: unknown)

Next week, diplomats from around the world will gather in Geneva to negotiate a treaty on global emissions of mercury a lethal neurotoxin that includes, among an inventory of grim effects, brain damage and the loss of IQ points in unborn children, injuries to kidneys and heart, and results in tens of billions of dollars in healthcare costs every year in the US alone. The Geneva conference is the final of five meetings, with a treaty expected soon thereafter.

While global mercury emissions are on the rise, negotiators, unfortunately, appear to be leaning towards a treaty with soft measures unlikely to prevent continued catastrophic impacts from this deadly and debilitating poison. Ironically, signatories propose to ink their treaty in Minamata, Japan, a town that famously suffered widespread mercury poisoning.

Health experts first described mercury poisoning, then called "Minamata disease", in Minamata city, in Japan, in 1956. Mercury discharges from the Chisso chemical plant contaminated finfish and shellfish, devastating the community's human and animal population for decades. Many of the region's citizens died and tens of thousands of people suffered mercury-related illnesses.

A former Japanese prime minister proposed naming the treaty the "Minamata Convention" to inspire delegates to reach an agreement that would prevent future mercury poisoning. Sadly, the treaty does not require identification or remediation of contaminated sites, does not require polluters to pay for health damages or environmental clean-up, or provide for protection from similar disasters occurring anywhere in the world. In fact, the treaty is not expected to reduce global levels of mercury in fish and seafood at all.

Poisonous mercury raining down from coal-fired power plants has contaminated fish in every US state. Now, a new report from the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) in Maine and IPEN, a network of 700 public interest organizations in 116 countries, shows the devastating global impacts of mercury pollution from coal-burning power plants and other mercury sources. The IPEN-BRI Global Hotspots report finds that coal-fired power plants, artisanal small-scale gold mining, chlor-alkali plants, and other industrial sources contaminate humans and fish around the world with mercury levels that exceed health advisory levels.

Mercury levels in fish from sites in Japan and Uruguay were so high that no consumption is recommended, according to US EPA guidelines, and 95% of the human hair samples taken from individuals tested in Tokyo, Japan exceeded the US EPA reference dose. The report demonstrates the need for a treaty that effectively addresses mercury releases.

The US is only now starting to see progress in reducing mercury emissions. In America, citizen action forced EPA to adopt the first ever mercury and air toxics rule in 2012. This rule will prevent 90% of the mercury in coal burned at power plants from being emitted into the air. Experts estimate the rule will, among other things, prevent annually up to 6,000 heart attacks, 130,000 asthma attacks, 3,000 cases of chronic bronchitis, and 4,000-11,000 premature deaths.

Moreover, experts predict the rule will save $40-70bn in healthcare costs annually. Imagine the benefits if these reductions were implemented globally.

Coal barons and mining magnates are profiting from poisoning the rest of us. As coal consumption dwindles in the US, these companies are exporting their deadly product to the rest of world. A recent report from World Resources Institute (WRI) estimates that almost 1,200 additional coal-fired plants are planned for development around the world.

But the mercury treaty is likely to call simply for reductions on a per facility basis, rather than an overall reduction in mercury emissions to air and water. As a result, the treaty could legitimize increased mercury pollution as the number of coal-fired power plants increases globally. Moreover, there is no agreement that the treaty should even require existing facilities to apply the best available techniques to reduce mercury releases.

We need a mercury treaty that actually reduces global mercury pollution. A treaty that fails to include mandatory mercury reductions overall will dishonor the victims of Minamata disease and accelerate mercury poisoning across the globe.

Those of us who care about public health and clean water, must stand strong and shame the spineless diplomats in Geneva into crafting a treaty that truly prevents the devastating environmental and public health impacts of mercury.
*** links within body of article at VISIT SITE****

By Robert F Kennedy Jr., Marc A Yaggi, | Guardian UK | Reader Supporter News |

mag.w.d. Aichberger (34)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 1:10 pm
as reported earlier today or y'day:
" In the past 100 years..the amount of Hg in the top 100 m of the world's oceans has doubled. "
-- UNEP Studies Show Rising Hg-Emissions in Developing Count's

Hg + Pb (they added it tro gas! and in certain cases stil do!!) + Cd (e.g. from tire abrasion) + U + Pu + ...
The poisoning needs to be stopped AT THE SOURCE. Otherwise it's bye-bye, humankind ...
" The probable fate of our species is extermination by poisoning. "
-- Rosalie Bertel (epidemiologist)
-- -- quoted in "What We Leave Behind", 2009, (a *highly* recommendable book) by Derrick Jensen and Aric McBay

JL A (282)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 1:32 pm
Mercury was the first potential cause for autism increases researchers examined using the Japanese data as a controlled comparison ironically. Would we be further along in controlling this poison had that research identified mercury as a cause or definite contributing factor for autism?
Have all those making decisions about mercury consumed too much mercury themselves?
Thanks Kit--too many ignore that these data indicate mercury poisoning to be a public health issue of epic and epidemic proportions.

Terry K (113)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 4:19 pm
Burning coal to make electricity is one of the stupidest, most destructive things ever done by humanity.

Jae A (320)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 4:26 pm
Terry..that and in second place... saying 'filler up' at a service station....

USA..USA...USA...USA coal today,gone to say.

JL A (282)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 4:29 pm
Love your rhyme Jae!

Tim C (2420)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 7:14 pm
Thanks Kit.

Paul G (126)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 7:33 pm

Rock H (254)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 8:02 pm
Thanks for posting this Kit. The sooner we get off coal as our power source the better.

Until then, a plant based diet will decrease your risks of health issues related to mercury in the environment. This is because mercury bio-accumulates in the food chain at higher levels in creatures closer to the top of the food chain.

Gloria p (304)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 8:25 pm
Coal is old. Wind and sun new!

Past Member (0)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 9:04 pm
Cheers Kit

Billie C (2)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 10:16 pm
those great new light bulbs are full of it too. that's one of the reasons i didn't move to the new bulbs. plus you can't read by them.

Julie E (417)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 12:34 am
Noted. Thanks Kit.

Past Member (0)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 4:49 am
Thanks for the post.

Wim Z (144)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 5:50 am
noted, thx

paul m (93)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 6:18 am

Noted Kit....

Ro H (0)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 6:21 am

pam w (139)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 6:34 am
Thanks, Kit....I"m glad people are FINALLY getting the mercury "message."

Arielle S (313)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 8:04 am
Too much talk, not enough action - we seem to be intent on killing ourselves and it happens to be something we are very good at. sigh

Betty K (4)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 10:08 am
Coal & oil are having a contest to see which can sicken, maime, and kill the most.

Theodore S (56)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 10:12 am
Science 101 is a thing that seems to have been forgotten by avaricious, myopic beings who in their covetous lust for power and material gain are killing the very world they live on.

Justin M (2)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 12:28 pm

Kathleen R (138)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 12:36 pm

Winn A (178)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 12:57 pm
Coal is for the last century, not this century.

Colleen L (3)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 1:08 pm
With them knowing that it's harmful to us, the animals and the planet, I hope that they come to some smart ways to take care of getting rid of it. quickly. Not just talking about doing it for a months and never getting it started like half of the other tissues/hings they procrastinate on. Thanks Kit

David C (153)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 1:35 pm
we should have been leaving the poisons in the ground these past decades, but now we have no excuses.....

Mary D (47)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 1:37 pm
Thanks Kit. Great post and comments. Perhaps humans are naturally suicidal!

Mike M (43)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 2:27 pm
Hard to believe that my government cares for any thing other than keeping the elite and corporations deep in money and the other dying to make another day thinking that somehow the politicians had not lied

Kit B (276)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 2:33 pm

Many years ago, the Kennedy family made a public statement that as a family would no longer be eating seafood. Just too much testing of all forms of seafood have shown high levels of Mercury for so many years, that it's not worth risking your health. We can use our best resource to clean up our oceans - our spending power. We tragically underestimate our dollars and the impact they can have on the many issues we strive to change.

Lois J (63)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 3:03 pm
Noted. Thanks, Kit.

greenplanet e (155)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 3:23 pm
Another reason to leave coal in the ground and go solar and wind energies.

Mercury from coal burning is also bad for the oceans and ocean life.

Tammy T (12)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 5:49 pm

Ana Passos (2)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 7:25 pm

Gillian M (218)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 7:49 pm
Sadly, mercury is in many products as a preservative and America suffers from it more than other countries. All marine life is affected, as Kit pointed out, because it is in the sea. Japan hunts whales & dolphins, which the public will not eat, as their meat is contaminated. As they are at the end of food chains, it indicates that, at the very least, a large section of the ecosystem suffers from mercury poisoning.

The toxins and poisons that a large country like America produces affects the world. An example of how far contaminates travel can be shown by Chernobyl where the radioactive fallout affected Welsh farmers as their sheep were contaminated. There are many alternatives such as solar panels which have shown to be very productive but there is insufficient investment either in research or development.

As a note of interest, Europe has a ban on importing beef from the US as it is toxic (& this will also be in milk) and many American food products are dangerous because they contain additives and colourants known to cause reactions such as migraine and hyperactivity in children. These contaminants end up in the sewage system and from there to the water system. I do not know how good the system in America is in removing these from the water but they will pass back into people if not properly removed. It also means that American bottled water may also be contaminated.

There is a lot to consider and cleaning the environment and making it safe for consumers and fellow humans is incredibly important. Unfortunately, it costs money as well as taking years to show any improvement and no politician is going to do that for his opponents to benefit by.

Thanx Kit, this is a contaminent that is often overlooked when talking about global warming which is happening side by side with climate change!

Ro H (0)
Monday January 14, 2013, 5:11 am

Many F (139)
Monday January 14, 2013, 6:04 am

Muriel S (53)
Tuesday January 15, 2013, 1:06 pm
Thank you, Kit. It's the same as usual: the dangers are now, but no really effective measure is taken.

Linda h (86)
Tuesday January 15, 2013, 4:54 pm
Mad hatter; this problem has been with us for a very long time, too long.

Sergio P (65)
Thursday January 17, 2013, 7:36 am
Thank you
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