By: Emily Pickett, Florida State Coordinator, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: May 9, 2023
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2018-0794
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Thank you for the opportunity to testify. My name is Emily Pickett, and as the Florida state coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force in Tampa, Florida, I am here to support EPA’s proposal to strengthen the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. It is imperative that we finalize these standards without delay.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a boater. From swimming with manatees in the springs of Crystal River and diving for scallops in the Gulf of Mexico to fishing rock piles and relaxing at shallow sand bars, Florida’s waters have brought me an immense sense of joy during my life. When I became a mom, I was eager to share my love for the water with my children.
However, with motherhood comes worry. Introducing my kids to fishing caused me to reconsider it as a family pastime due to the health and safety impacts of eating the fish we caught.
It turns out my worries were warranted. The presence of harmful toxins, particularly mercury, is a significant concern, and the Florida Department of Health's findings that dozens of Florida’s freshwater and marine fish species are contaminated with mercury is alarming. The department advises women of childbearing age and young children to limit the consumption of many types of fish to just once a month to prevent mercury from building up in our bodies. Plus, EPA’s waterways tool shows that almost every single body of water in the Tampa Bay area is impaired due to high levels of mercury.
Knowing that there is no safe level of mercury consumption and that there is some level of mercury in nearly all seafood, fishing is not as appealing to me as it once was. I fear that my children and future generations may never be able to fully enjoy the waters that have brought me so much happiness.
But with EPA's proposed stronger mercury air toxics standards, we have the opportunity to decrease the amount of mercury in our waterways and fish and allow families to safely enjoy recreational fishing and boating without fear of mercury poisoning.
I implore EPA to take action and finalize these standards as soon as possible. Florida has already made great strides, reducing mercury pollution by 77% since 2011, and it’s time to take another step forward. We cannot wait any longer to protect the health and well-being of our families and our environment. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.