Mercury is a Dangerous Neurotoxin

The Daily Herald published my letter and rebuttal about the dangers of Mercury.

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20120121/discuss/701219927/

Title: Mercury is a Neurotoxin
I am writing in rebuttal to the letter posted Sunday by Donn Dears titled “EPA’s war against coal a disservice.” First, it must be noted that Mr. Dears is a self-styled “energy expert” (per his Linkedin.com page) with no college degree who runs something called TSAugust, a “volunteer think tank.” This group is a shill for the coal & oil industry and a group that denies Global Warming due to manmade CO2 generation.

I am staggered by this person’s illogic and lack of basic knowledge of toxicology. As for my qualifications, I am a degreed chemist (UIUC 1981) and the owner of a successful environmental specialty chemical company.
Dears regurgitates Fox News cherry-picked reports and he willfully disregards choices between Mercury sources we can control (coal fired power plants) and those that we cannot (volcanoes, natural deposits).
Mercury and its related compounds are powerful teratogens, carcinogens, and neurotoxins.

One of the earliest, large-scale health studies on Mercury from the 18th & 19th century involved neurological diseases among workers in the felt hat industry who were exposed to Mercury laden vapors. Hence, the term “Mad as a Hatter.” A single drop of Dimethyl Mercury can be absorbed through the skin and kill a 250 lbs man.

We cannot control natural sources of Mercury but only seek to avoid and contain them. We can, however, require the coal industry to implement necessary and cost-effective emission controls to remove this toxic compound from our environment and our children. The technology is reliable and not so costly as the coal industry portrays. It is pure greed and profit motive that drives the coal industry to feel that they should be able to pollute with impunity. To suggest, as Dears does, that somehow coal plant Mercury is magically “not a hazard” is ignorant and simply wrong.

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