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Kit to Test your childs mercury levels November 19, 2004 3:53 PM

The heavy metal mercury has been in the news a lot in the past year because it is turning up everywhere from fish, automobile switches and even our own bodies. The pollution is so widespread that you might be tempted to think that there is nothing you can do. Thankfully thatís far from the case. Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that naturally occurs in the earthís crust. It enters the environment through two chief means: via the natural weathering of rocks and releases from volcanoes and deep sea vents; and unnaturally in the form of pollution created when fossil fuels are burned, mercury-containing products are burned or disposed of, and factories emit waste. Nearly half the mercury contamination in our country comes from antiquated coal-fired power plants that have escaped regulation for years under a grandfather clause. These plants release mercury into the atmosphere, where it is rinsed out of the air by rains that deposit it into our waterways. Once in rivers, lakes, and oceans, mercury accumulates in fish that we then eat. In this way, weíre exposed to most of the mercury that poisons our bodies. Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin capable of impairing vision, speech, walking, and writing abilities, and causing mood swings, memory loss, and mental disturbances. How powerful is it? According to the Mercury Policy Project, just 1/70 of a teaspoon could contaminate a 25-acre lake to the point where its fish would be unsafe to eat. (Because of this toxicity, 40 states have warned their residents to restrict their consumption of certain fish or avoid eating them altogether.) Like all toxic exposures, mercury poisoning is a particular worry where children are concerned. According to a recent Centers For Disease Control report, one out of every six children born in the U.S. has potentially dangerous levels of mercury in his or her body. That's 630,000 babies a year at risk of brain damage, problems with language development, and balance and coordination problems. To combat the problem, the EPA under the Clinton Administration put rules in place to reduce mercury emissions from power plants by 90%. Unfortunately, current EPA administrators are attempting to delay implementation of these rules for another ten years while watering them down to allow for more mercury emissions. In an attempt to convince regulators that the rules should be neither delayed nor diluted, Greenpeace is currently conducting the largest study of mercury exposure in U.S. history. In partnership with the University of North Carolina at Asheville, they are seeking to test hair samples from 10,000 people throughout the country. The study results will be used to draw needed attention to this public health crisis and to determine exactly how much mercury exposure is being experienced. Thatís where you come in. Greenpeace is seeking volunteers to have their hair tested for the study as well as to spread the word about the study and to help organize local testing ev  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 19, 2004 3:54 PM

events. For $25 you can purchase a self-testing kit that will provide you with your or your childís own mercury levels and allow Greenpeace to add this data to the new database. (The $25 price goes entirely toward covering the cost of the laboratory testing, and your personal information will not be shared with anyone if you take a test. You will receive your results by mail within 2 to 3 weeks of taking the test, along with information on how to reduce your mercury level.) By taking this test, youíll be helping convince the EPA to clean up polluting fossil fuel plants and encourage a transition to healthier, renewable energy. Itís a worthy goal and one we hope our readers will contribute to. For more information about the Greenpeace project and to order your test kits visit  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
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