The Environmental Defence Fund [EDF] reports on how the current administration is dealing with mercury poisoning.
An EDF mom, Dominique Browning represents the million-member EDF’s affiliate Moms Clean Air Force, of which she is their co founder.
She asked Scott Pruitt, former director of the EPA about his stand on mercury poisoning. Would his EPA undo protections for infants, toddlers and pregnant women fought so hard for? That rule protects them from mercury, lead, arsenic and acid gases coming from coal-burning power plants. His answer was absolutely not, he did not undue the mercury standards.
The Mercury standard has lots of industry support. Industry has spent lots of money installing scrubbers to remove pollutants including Mercury. The mercury standards have been in place since December 2011.
Most coal plants have been outfitted with “scrubbers” and are complying with the rules. In fact, the electric utilities that run America’s coal-burning power plants oppose any change. They like stability. They don’t want to compete with unscrupulous polluting competitors that do not meet the standards that they meet.
However, when President Trump appointed coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as EPA acting administrator, Dominique knew the mercury standards were in trouble. “I knew the mercury standards were in trouble. EPA watchers have long known that Wheeler wanted to undo those vital health protections.” In October 2018, Wheeler announced that the EPA was reviewing the standards.
When she was first pregnant, her doctor told her not to eat tuna, swordfish, or any other large, fatty fish, because they contained high levels of mercury.
What no one told her was that mercury comes primarily from the smokestacks of coal-burning power plants. Airborne mercury eventually gets into water. There it is converted by microorganisms into toxic methylmercury. That is ingested by fish and gets into our bodies when we eat those fish. It easily crosses the placenta, concentrating in a developing fetus’ blood and organs.
Babies born with mercury poisoning can suffer brain damage, affecting a child’s ability to walk, talk, read and learn.
“I suppose it is true that a mother’s work is never done. But to have to clean up the same mess over and over again defies our patience.
On this issue, the fact remains that we ought to be able to rely on an EPA that will keep us safe, not put us in danger, ” said Dominique Browning.
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