High levels of mercury found in North Shore babies

… and not a health effect to be detected.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports:

One in 10 babies along Minnesota’s North Shore are born with unhealthy levels of mercury in their bodies, according to a new report on contamination around Lake Superior, the first to look for the pollutant in the blood of U.S. infants.

Researchers at the Minnesota Department of Health said they were surprised to find that some of the 1,465 children they tested had very high concentrations. It’s the first solid evidence that infants in the state are contaminated by mercury, a pollutant that can cause neurological damage and is distributed around the world, primarily by coal-fired power plants.

“We’ve never had hard evidence that there were exposures,” said Pat McCann, the research scientist who conducted the study for the Health Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “This provides that”…

4 thoughts on “High levels of mercury found in North Shore babies”

  1. Agenda driven. And why would Lake Superior be the more mercury laden Great Lake anyway? Guess they’re going to go with the “distributed around the world” argument implicating China and those fisheating moms in northern MN. The precautionary one-worldism would argue for not eating anything anywhere at any time. It’s just being directed at coal for the time being.

  2. The media inaccurately reports “high levels of mercury” and claims that one in ten Minnesota’s North Shore babies have “unhealthy levels” of mercury.

    The actual study from the Minnesota Dept of Health [http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/hazardous/topics/studies/glnpo.pdf] reported that of the 1465 samples tested, only 8% were above the EPA’s Reference Dose for methylmercury, and less than 1% (14 samples) were above the benchmark dose.

    What they fail to explain is that the reference does does not represent a cut-off where any actual risk has ever been shown. This threshold represents an arbitrary EPA safety cushion that are is the most restrictive in the world and most other scientific agencies here and around the world examining the same evidence, including the FDA, have established minimum exposure levels multiple times higher. To arrive at their levels, the EPA took a level where there was no observed effect at all in the most sensitive of the population with a lifetime of exposure (the benchmark dose) — a methylmercury level nearly ten times that found in American women — and added another ten-fold safety cushion to that (the reference dose).

    In other words, there is no story here.

    It should also be noted that they used a “novel new” method of analysis that their report admitted “has not been validated or peer reviewed” and which they admitted to high degrees of bias, small sample sizes, inadequate volumes for reanalysis, and low recovery in 60% of the samples.

    When the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) studied the mercury levels among American women of childbearing age and young children, it found not a single woman or child had values anywhere near unsafe levels.

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