The Environmental Quality Institute (EQI) at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, in conjunction with Greenpeace, recently released results of its mercury hair sampling study. The bottom line is that one in five women of childbearing age that were tested have mercury levels exceeding the EPA’s recommended limit.
Mercury has become the “hot” toxin, mostly because of the thimerosal-autism debate. Despite valid concerns about vaccine preservatives, our exposure to the neurotoxic substance comes mainly through the food we eat and the air we breathe. Pregnant moms especially are worried about the fish saga; Tuna – canned or not at all? Salmon – friend or foe? The one absolute is that today, 1 in 5 women of childbearing age is mercury toxic. While there’s no real “safe” level of mercury (or lead or any toxin for that matter), 20% of the population surveyed had hair levels exceeding EPA limits. And just when we should be looking at ways to reduce mercury exposure, the Bush administration’s proposal for revising the Clean Air Act would allow more mercury than ever before to be dumped into our environment. Timing is everything.