BY ON March 23, 2011

“In Kentucky, so much mercury has entered the aquatic food chain that every single lake and stream is under a mercury advisory for women and young children. Kentucky is always in the top 10 states for mercury pollution — with an estimated 5,930 pounds falling on the state in 2009.”

From the Lexington Herald-Leader

I can’t tell you how heartsick this makes me. My father grew up in Hopkinsville, Kentucky; visits to his family there are among my happiest childhood memories. I caught my first fish when I was five years old in a small pond on their family farm — but then I was so upset and startled I dropped fish, and rod, into the water. Luckily, my grandfather was by my side to catch me!

Beaver Lake, KY; via

Beaver Lake, KY; via

How sad to know that if a child landed a fish now, she’d be forced to throw it away because it is contaminated with mercury. Mercury is poison. It damages the developing brains of children, babies, and fetuses.

My sister and her husband, Michele and Tim O’Rourke, are teachers in Lexington, where they have raised four children. I hope they — and teachers everywhere — turn this environmental tragedy into a civics lesson.

Students should understand that they have a moral right to clean air. They can learn how to write to elected officials, media, and government agencies. They can learn how to become active, engaged citizens of their communities.

The people of Kentucky deserve better than to be given poison in every breath they take.

– Dominique Browning, Slow Love Life

TOPICS: Mercury Poisoning, Pollution