Sierra Club tests mercury levels in hair listen05/09/11 Nolan Ruark
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Mercury in seafood can cause birth defects. Today the Sierra Club gave Floridians a chance to see how much mercury they’ve taken in lately.
Mercury pollution in seafood is a major concern in Florida, which has a large fishing industry. So when the Sierra Club set up mercury testing at a hair salon in Carrolwood, many showed up to have a lock of their hair cut and tested for mercury. Erin Lennox sat down for a hair cut to look out for her health.
"I'm getting the mercury testing because I know that I want to have kids in the next couple of years, so I want to test to see how much mercury is in my system because it might hurt their neurological development."
Phil Compton, an organizing representative for the Sierra Club, says that mercury is a potent neurotoxin that is dangerous to human health.
"Especially dangerous to younger woman who might want to have a child, mercury bio-accumulates in your body, so if you're twenty, thirty, or thirty-eight and if you're going to have a baby anytime soon, the mercury that you're getting from tuna, swordfish, and a lot of different fish is carrying the mercury from all the fish those fish ate and that stays in your body for years and years, so it's important to find out how much mercury is in your body today."
However Compton says that there’s good news. The EPA has proposed a new rule that aims to reduce 90 percent of mercury in the environment.
"Mercury comes from burning coal we've taken it out of AA batteries out of medical instruments, the main source now is burning coal to make electricity and the EPA is telling the utilities that you've got to capture 90 percent coal spawned mercury before it comes out the smokestacks. If they do that, if this rule stands then in just a few years time you wont have to worry, you can eat all the tuna you want."
As of now the bill rule is undergoing review. Sierra Club volunteer Stephanie Martis is gathering support in favor of the rule.
"So we're also having petitions being signed and those will go to the EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, and these petitions are just to back her up to inform them that we care about how much mercury is in our atmosphere and in our water."
The Clean Air Mercury Rule is expected to be finalized this November.