Things That Make You Go “Hmmmm”?

With apologies to the C+C Music Factory, I have to continue on the theme of articles from the paper that just make you scratch your head.

February 1, 2009 – The Indianapolis Star – Mercury found is found in corn sweetener – Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage where it is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient.

Hmmmm, mercury in corn syrup, wonder if it came from the CORN?

February 2, 2009 – The Indianapolis Star – TESTING THE WATERS – HOOSIER STREAMS STILL HAVE HIGH LEVELS OF MERCURY – Levels of mercury remain high in several Indiana streams and rivers, despite years of effort to reduce the contaminant, which can cause neurological damage.

Hmmmm, mercury in water, wonder if it came from the AIR?

Ok, so what’s the big deal? What’s a little mercury among friends? Hmmmm, mercury affects the human brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver. It has affect on your ability to feel, to see, to taste and even to move. Your fingers and toes can tingle (and not in a good way), your mouth can become numb and you can experience tunnel vision. Continued exposure can cause symptoms to progressively worsen and can even change your personality, cause stupor and even comas. In women that are pregnant the mercury can pass along to the fetus where it affects development of the brain and nervous system. The risk of this in occurring is so great the federal government recommends that women you are pregnant or who may become pregnant not eat mercury-contaminated fish.

48 states have issued warnings not to consume certain species of fish caught in some or all of their rivers and streams. That’s more than 14,000,000 acres of lakes. More than 80 percent of the samples tested in Indiana contained detectable levels of mercury. Good luck on Fridays during lent women!

So what’s the big deal about “detectable levels” of mercury? It only takes 1/70th of one teaspoon to contaminate a 25-acre lake to the point that the fish are unsafe to consume.

So, where is this mercury coming from you ask? Thermometers? Uh, hardly! Coal! Coal-fired plants are the single largest source of airborne mercury in the United States. These plants spew over 50 TONS of this poison into the air and water. Mercury can stay airborne for over a year and travel thousands of miles before it falls into our lakes and rivers, or ON TO OUR CORN (if it is falling on to our corn, what other foods are being contaminated?) In fact, coal-fired heat and power production is the single largest contributor of mercury emissions into the air we breathe.

The brings us to clean coal (whatever THAT is), clean coal gets rid of all this right? Nope, current clean technologies do nothing, zero, zilch, zippo, nada, non to remove mercury either from the emissions or from the sludge created by either scrubbing the coal prior to burning it or by the burn process itself. In fact, since the sludge from scrubbing is used for landfill material it probably hits our water and food supply FASTER. Experimental processes to remove mercury costs about $761,000/kg of mercury removed and is only 90% effective (remember that 1/70th of one teaspoon?).

With all that information, I was stunned to learn of a bill in the Indiana House this year that included COAL as a renewable energy source. Yes, coal! Exactly how a resource that takes a couple million years to form is considered renewable I don’t know. But, you have to remember, Indiana has the largest concentration of coal-fired plants in the country. Believe it or not, this bill actually passed committee, while several other environmental bills were not even heard in committee.

I urge you, dear readers, (sound like Ann Landers, don’t I?), take notice of power plant permits being issued or considered in your state. Urge your legislators and government official to not allow one more single coal-fired plant to be built or expanded anywhere in this country. Once we accomplish that, then we can go talk to China about their coal-fired plants!

From cough Indiana cough thanks for cough listening.

Comments

  1. Mary says

    Thought you might find this interesting. I was discussing Autism this morning with my mother, we were debating whether or not Autism is triggered by genes or the environment. Perhaps it’s a combination but I’m leaning towards environmental factors target a genetic defect which triggers Autism.

    Could it be Mercury??? Don’t know. But there are lots of studies going on and based on the increased % of children with Autism I sincerely hope we find the source and a cure.

    Autism Risk Linked To Distance From Power Plants, Other Mercury-releasing Sources

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080424120953.htm

  2. says

    It’s crazy that eight years after you wrote this article, we are still arguing over scientific fact that coal will never be “clean”. Makes my blood boil when people do not believe science.

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