Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mercury: What You Can Do

Today power plants burning coal to generate electricity are the largest source of toxic air emissions in the United States. Until now, we’ve had no national standard to protect us from toxic air pollution from these sources. This pollution contains mercury, arsenic, lead, dioxin and other heavy metals, and is linked to health problems such as developmental disabilities, birth defects, cancer, heart disease, brain damage, asthma attacks and even premature death.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now in the process of issuing strong safety standards to substantially reduce the amount of these toxins allowed in smokestack emissions. In the case of mercury, fish that should now be avoided due to current high levels of mercury will become much safer in a relatively short time, as mercury levels are expected to decline rapidly once emissions are curbed. What fish is now safe to eat? You can find the answer by downloading our Safe Seafood Guide (PDF) to keep in your purse or wallet when dining out or at the grocery store.

But there's good news. In just a few years, you'll be able to throw away that seafood shopping guide if the new EPA safety standard goes into effect. The EPA‘s new safety standard for mercury will require utilities to capture 90% of the mercury now coming from smokestacks. Whether or not it this new safety standard survives the current review period depends on how much support it gets right now.  You can take action in 2 ways to support the new EPA mercury safety standard @ www.sierraclub.org/mercury:
  1. Send a comment to EPA.
  2. Sign our TAKE ACTION petition to EPA
But the MOST POWERFUL thing you can do right now is help get Sierra Club members in Chicago to attend the May 24th EPA hearing being held in their city. Participate in our automated phone banking from your home this Sunday evening, May 22, 7:00 – 9:30 pm. In just an hour or two, you can speak directly to 2 to 4 dozen Chicagoland Sierra Club members as our automated system connects you only to those who answer their phone. You will be urging Sierra Club members to attend the EPA hearing in person and ask EPA to get mercury out of our environment, our seafood and our bodies. For more info on participating in this Sunday’s phone banking, email me at phil.compton@sierraclub.org

More on mercury: Learn more about the dangers of mercury and why it's important to be tested! Watch our segment on Good Morning America.
Read Bryan Walsh's article in TIME Magazine: "How My Mercury Level Hit Double the Safety Limit"