Consumers unaware of mercury poisoning risks

The water quality risk, caused by the externality of the chemical herbicide and pesticide industries, as well as other weakly regulated industries that dump waste on people, may also become known as the mercury poisoning of America. The AP has a telling story today about the lack of awareness that not only allows companies to continue poisoning and evade cleanup accountability, but also the susceptibility of consumers to harm on a daily basis:

“We don’t test a lake or river and not find some level of mercury,” [environmental scientist for the North Dakota state Health Department] Ell said. “It’s pretty widespread across the state. We don’t have levels that are high enough to issue any kind of bans, but some lakes have concentrations where, in some species of fish, we just advise people to limit their consumption to smaller fish.”

Mercury is a toxic metal that can cause nerve damage in humans and is particularly dangerous to children, developing fetuses and women of childbearing age.

Lists are starting to emerge from the private sector watch groups as the US government lags not only in stopping the causes, but addressing the symptoms and regulating dangerous levels of mercury sold over the counter:

Oceana says that without in-store signs, most consumers lack the knowledge for good choices.

Its report says stores in Hawaii, the District of Columbia and Alaska are doing the best job of educating consumers, and it put 15 companies on its “green list,” including Safeway, Trader Joe’s and Albertson’s.

Most of the grocery chains that serve West Virginia were on the more than 50-member “red list,” including Kroger, Food Lion, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, IGA, Giant Eagle and Save-A-Lot.

Jeff Lowrance, spokesman for North Carolina-based Food Lion LLC, said there is no state or federal law requiring supermarkets to post such information.

Thanks to weak environmental (read: infrastructure security) regulation, sustainability will decline as the cost of living increases dramatically. In other words, if you are in America, don’t touch the water and don’t eat the fish unless you bring a chemistry set to identify the toxicity; or just outsource your supply to someone who understands the risks.

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