Concern about mercury overblown

A terrific letter to the editor of The Union (Grass Valley, CA).

Our local newspaper, The Union, has recently printed three environmentalists’ opinions, and now we would ask for some space for the truth.

Their recent issue by Amber Taxiera of the Sierra Fund is a diatribe about mercury in fish. The truth is that of the 300 million people who live in the United States, none of them has ever been sick or died from mercury poisoning from eating any kind of fish.

While very small amounts of mercury have been found in fish, and the EPA has issued guidelines recommending the amount of fish that should be eaten, the EPA has not produced any records that show mercury in fish has harmed any human in any manner.

In the 100 years of mining for gold in hundreds of mines in California, by thousands of miners, hundreds of men who rubbed mercury with their bare hands into their amalgam plates every day, there have been no documented reports of mercury poisoning during the mining of gold, just as there have been no documented reports of mercury poisoning by the EPA since it was established 43 years ago.

It is interesting to note that shortly after World War II was over, the United States was in a race with Russia to build a super bomb at Oak Ridge Laboratories in Tennessee.

The project was later dropped, but 2.4 million pounds of mercury could not be accounted for, and an east fork of Poplar Creek was apparently its resting place (Wikipedia). There was no hue and cry, and no one sickened or died.

Lastly, no people have had mercury poisoning from rivers and creeks that were hydraulically mined or treated in gold mining plants in California.

Just remember, we are all environmentalists, but sound environmentalism must be based on science, not on rumor, innuendo or pseudo-science.

And do not forget, everything you have, own or eat has a beginning in the mining industry.

Robert S. Shoemaker lives in Grass Valley.

The original letter is here.

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4 responses to “Concern about mercury overblown

  1. Alas, a lot of environmentalism is driven exactly by “… rumor, innuendo or pseudo-science.”

  2. Don’t forget that extra dash of ad hominem, routinely added to the stew.

  3. Hydrargyrumphobia. First cousin of plumbumphobia.

  4. Based on the results from the extensive Seychelles study, I do not believe it is possible to eat enough fish to cause mercury-related health problems. If you eat only fish to the exclusion of other foods, non-mercury-related health problems are possible.

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