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Mercury poisoning from Michigan's coal plants threatens people, fish and wildlife


(NaturalNews) The problem of mercury poisoning has become so widespread in Michigan, that
a group of more than 50 scientists has written to Attorney General Bill Schuette asking him to drop his opposition to the EPA's federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which requires the reduction of mercury emissions by power plants.

The EPA instituted these standards to ensure the safety of local fish, protect wildlife from pollution, and improve air quality. Their letter states that blocking the rule could have "deleterious results for Michigan."

Mercury is considered a neurotoxin, and it can damage not only the nervous system, but also the brain and heart. Exposure to mercury has also been linked to social anxiety and irritability. It is believed that more than 50 percent of the mercury that is deposited in Michigan can be traced to emissions from coal plants.

In their letter, the scientists point out that fetal exposure to mercury can adversely affect memory, language, attention and visual-motor skills. It can also affect the survival, reproduction and growth of birds, fish and other animals.

University of Michigan Earth and Environmental Sciences Professor Joel Blum said: "Mercury is one of those toxins that we're exposed to that we can actually do something about. The costs of implementing these emissions controls on the power plants are well worth the savings that result from not exposing people to high levels of mercury in the fish that they eat."

He pointed out that modern technology can actually remove as much as 90 percent of the mercury that is produced by burning coal. He urges people to make use of the Michigan Health and Human Services "Eat Safe Fish" website to learn which local fish are safe to eat.

AG Schuette's objection to the regulations stems from what he feels is an overreach of federal powers that could lead to higher electricity rates. Opponents to the regulations believe they will cost $9.6 billion per year.

The Supreme Court appears to be siding with the scientists, as it ultimately decided that it would not hear an appeal against the December appeals court decision that allowed the mercury rules to remain in place.

Environmental groups applaud Supreme Court's refusal to hear this case

The EPA noted that the rules "cut harmful pollution from power plants, saving thousands of lives each year and preventing heart and asthma attacks."

Sierra Club lawyer Sanjay Narayan said: "The Supreme Court correctly rejected the latest industry challenge to these vital protections against dangerous, toxic pollutants."

People advised to avoid mercury exposure whenever possible

The Natural Resources Defense Council reports that eating contaminated fish is the top cause of mercury exposure for Americans. Much of this mercury makes its way into bodies of water after being released into the air from coal-burning factories and power plants. It settles in the water and is ingested or absorbed by sea life, and its concentration rises as it works its way up the food chain, with larger predatory fish like tuna or sharks containing tremendous amounts of it.

Meanwhile, those who are concerned about the levels of mercury in their tap water can take part in a free nationwide initiative by sending a sample to EPA Watch. EPA Watch is currently analyzing and exposing the levels of heavy metals in our nation's tap water.

It seems that mercury is everywhere, from our fish to our vaccines to our dental fillings. Some people turn to chlorella to help remove it from their bodies, but more needs to be done to reduce the possibility of becoming poisoned by mercury in the first place.

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