This week, a study involving more than 6,000 American women suggests that blood levels of mercury are accumulating over time, with a big rise noted over the past decade (US News HERE). The current presidential administration is working to negotiate an international treaty to phase out man-made mercury, and President Obama had a history in the Senate of introducing bills to phase out mercury pollution from man-made sources. Yet there are still entrenched corporate interests, and their friends in Washington, that are actively working to continue out-dated practices that are major sources of mercury poisoning. Two organizations, Consumers for Dental Choice and Oceana, are fighting mercury pollution and could use the help of our community right now:
1) Consumers for Dental Choice (HERE) have been campaigning for ten years to raise awareness of the risks of mercury in dental amalgams and to eventually ban these dental amalgams in favor of newer, non-mercury-based dental fillings. After making significant progress towards these goals with the FDA, this campaign experienced a setback in July when the FDA unexpectedly declared amalgams to be safe for the general public (including children and pregnant women). Further, the FDA stated that amalgams only need to carry a warning of risk to persons who are allergic to mercury. An investigation by Consumers for Dental Choice has uncovered evidence that the current FDA Commissioner has close ties to the top amalgam manufacturer. Consumers for Dental Choice has filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Inspector-General requesting an investigation (HERE), and is asking the public to:
• Write the Inspector-General ([email protected]) with your views about the need for such an investigation;
• Write or telephone your Representative to ask that he or she request an investigation of FDA and the amalgam rule (https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml, House of Representatives switchboard at 202.224-3121 or 202.225-3121)
2) Congress is currently considering a bill to stop mercury pollution from chlorine manufacturing plants. Even though 95 percent of US chlorine is made without the use of mercury, four outdated plants continue to use old technology that relies upon hundreds of tons of mercury at each plant. Collectively, these plants release hundreds of pounds of mercury into our air and water every year. When released into the environment, the mercury can cause neurological damage when we breathe it in air or eat fish in which the mercury has accumulated. Pregnant women and children are particularly susceptible. There is also concern that this mercury might be contaminating household and food products (HERE). The newer non-mercury technology costs less to operate and produces higher capacity.
The Mercury Pollution Reduction Act, H.R. 2190 in the House and S.1428 in the Senate, would make the outdated “Foul Four” chlorine plants update their equipment to modern technology that doesn’t utilize or release mercury. The Mercury Pollution Reduction Act was originally authored by then-Senator Obama in 2006, and was re-introduced in 2009. Oceana, an organization which campaigns to protect and restore the world’s oceans, has been leading the push to introduce and pass these laws. If you can help, you can take action via the Oceana website (HERE.)
Scott Laster has over 20 years experience as an entrepreneur and engineer in the telecommunications industry. He received an engineering degree with Highest Honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Scott chairs the environmental committee of SafeMinds.