FOCUS ON: Mercury

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that is particularly dangerous to pregnant women and children. Mercury easily crosses the placenta, and it concentrates in a developing fetus’s blood and organs, including his or her brain, where it can disrupt the developing architecture of that precious organ.

1 in 10 American women of childbearing age have potentially dangerous levels of mercury in their bodies. This means that, conservatively speaking, 410,000 US children are exposed to dangerous levels of mercury in the womb each year.

Coal-fired power plants are the most significant source of mercury pollution, emitting almost three quarters of all mercury air emissions in the US. Although coal contains only trace amounts of naturally occurring mercury, when burned in large quantities for energy, it releases significant amounts of gaseous mercury into the air. This airborne mercury eventually falls on soils and water bodies, where it is converted to methylmercury by microorganisms.

Methylmercury, in turn, collects and concentrates in fish over years, and magnifies across the food web. This means that the mercury in your child’s tuna sandwich most likely came from the smokestack of a coal-fired power plant.

One thing to do: Tell your Governor to support clean air for kids.



More about Mercury Poisoning