:: 2.09.2004 ::
New Study Reveals More Babies at Risk From Mercury
Roughly 630,000 of the 4 million children born annually in the U.S. are at risk of impaired motor function, learning capacity, memory, and vision due to high levels of mercury in their bloodstreams, revealed a U.S. EPA analysis released yesterday, which doubles the previously estimated number. While researchers once assumed that maternal and fetal blood contained equal levels of mercury, new studies of umbilical blood show that babies' levels are approximately 70 percent higher than their mothers'. Much mercury pollution comes from coal-fired power plants; it contaminates water sources, works its way through the food chain, and ends up in seafood. This new analysis comes as the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing seafood-consumption guidelines for pregnant women, and as controversy continues to rage about the Bush administration's plan for reducing mercury emissions, which has been widely maligned as too weak.Lifted from the Daily Grist; original article in the LA Times.
A few quotes from there for yer edification (women of childbearing age, take note):
Mahaffey stressed that the science was evolving and that the estimates could change. But she urged expectant mothers and women who planned to become pregnant to choose fish that have lower mercury levels and higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial to developing fetuses.
Swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel are all high in mercury but relatively low in Omega-3 fatty acids. Sockeye salmon and herring have low mercury levels but are high in Omega-3 fatty acids.
"This heightens the urgency for FDA to give women adequate advice on what fish are safe to eat, and it ups the burden on the administration to cut mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants," said Jane Houlihan, vice president of the Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy organization.
"The problem is twice as serious as previously believed."
Houlihan said the FDA should particularly warn women not to eat albacore, or white meat tuna, which is high in mercury but is not on the FDA's list of fish to avoid.
Last week, the EPA announced its plan to reduce mercury emissions from power plants by 70% over 15 years.
The agency's own Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee called the proposal inadequate. [emphasis added]
:: Deb 4:20 PM :: permalink ::
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