I’M GETTING MY HAIR TESTED

BY ON April 20, 2011

This piece was cross-posted at Farmer’s Daughter.

For mercury, that is. The Sierra Club is holding free mercury testing events throughout the country, but of course there aren’t any around here.  Fortunately they’re also offering testing by mail for a small fee.  All I need to do is send in a small sample of my hair. (Of course with my hair, no sample is that small…)

The results of the mercury test will be valuable for a few reasons.  As everyone knows, I’m a breastfeeding mom and mercury has been found in human milk.  However, the risks of mercury exposure through nursing are less than the risks associated with NOT breastfeeding, so I’m not really concerned about that.

However, mercury in a mother’s blood can easily cross the placenta and concentrate in a developing fetus, and I do want to have more children someday. I also love to eat seafood, especially fish that Ed catches, so that’s another reason to get tested. Once I know my mercury level, I’ll be able to make educated choices about what I eat and future pregnancies.

But I really want to get my hair tested because I’m a science nerd. I’m excited for the same reasons I loved getting tested for carrier status of common genetic disorders when I was pregnant. I read about or even teach about these tests, so it’s neat to get them done myself. I just like to know the results, and I’ll enjoy talking about it with my friends as well as using it as a teachable moment with my students. It will also give me some data to share when I argue in favor of regulating mercury emissions.

Would you get your hair tested for mercury, or would you prefer not to know?

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TOPICS: Mercury Poisoning, Pollution