Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mercury: How Much Is In You?

Last week Sierra Club offered Tampa residents, mostly young women, the chance to have their hair tested to determine how much mercury is in their bodies. But why does anyone need to know such a thing?

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that accumulates in the body’s tissues over time. The most likely way we are exposed to mercury is through eating seafood that contains this toxin. While high levels of mercury can cause problems for people at any age, it’s an especially dangerous risk for women of childbearing age (16-45), as in pregnancy mercury can pass through a mother’s placenta and harm the baby. When the baby’s brain is developing in the womb, mercury impacts the child’s future ability to learn, remember, and pay attention.

The best way for one to determine how much mercury is in one’s body is through laboratory testing of a hair sample, a diagnostic procedure that identifies if there is a potentially risky trace level of this toxin. Confidential test results will be mailed to these participants, providing medical information that can be used to consult with physicians in the case of tests showing a high level.

The event was covered by 4 TV stations and WMNF-FM radio news. Here are some of those stories:
BayNews9 (Tampa, FL), Women’s hair tested for mercury at Tampa salon - http://sc.org/jY93P0

WMNF-FM (FL), Sierra Club tests mercury levels in hair http://sc.org/jMgl5e

ABC Action News (Tampa, FL), Moms test hair for mercury poisoning, http://sc.org/jb4I8a
We appreciate the volunteer service of Marcel Perets and Anita Arnette, experienced stylists, who took samples so that the clipped hair area would not show. Thanks to Original French Accent Hair Salon of Carrollwood for making this special event possible.

The Sierra Club's national mercury hair-testing program has been a great success, with free testing events held in more than 30 cities in 20 states! If you’re interested in finding out how much toxic mercury is in your body, our partners at the University of Georgia Marine Extension Service are offering individual testing for only $20 per person. CLICK HERE for a brochure that you can use to submit your hair sample to the lab by mail, along with a $20 check. Results may take up to 8 weeks to process.

For more on what you can do now to help eliminate 90% of the current threat of toxic mercury, watch for our next post: "Mercury: What You Can Do".