Paul Krugman’s Toxic Shock Syndrome: Mercury Madness

Ironically, the EPA works to thwart the biggest threat to coal.

Larry Bell writes at Forbes:

New York Times writer Paul Krugman finally got his Christmas wish from the EPA in the form of new mercury and air standards for power plants. In his December 25 article titled “Springtime for Toxics” he cheered: “ we were supposed to start regulating mercury more than 20 years ago. But the rules are finally here, and will deliver huge benefits at only modest cost. So naturally, Republicans are furious.” He went on to say, “As far as I can tell, even opponents of environmental regulation admit that mercury is nasty stuff. It’s a potent neurotoxicant: the expression ‘mad as a hatter’ emerged in the 19th century because hat makers of the time treated fur with mercury compounds, and often suffered nerve and mental damage as a result.”

…Is it legitimate for some to question how much good will this rule really accomplish? For a little perspective, consider that America’s coal-burning power plants which have provided about half of all electricity emit an estimated 41-48 tons of mercury each year. Compare this amount with U.S. forest fires that emit at least 44 tons; human cremation about 26 tons; Chinese power plants 400 tons; and volcanoes, subsea vents, geysers and other natural sources spew out 9,000-10,000 tons. Of all these emissions that enter the atmosphere, the power plants account for less than 0.5%.

Also consider some recent health survey and risk assessment results. The Centers for Disease Control’s National Examination Survey, which monitors blood mercury counts for U.S. women and children, found that mercury levels have decreased steadily from 1999-2008. A 17-year Seychelles Children Development Study of mercury risk to babies and children who eat several servings of ocean fish every week found “no measurable cognitive or behavioral effects.” And the World Health Organization and U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has set mercury-risk standards that are two to three times less restrictive than EPA’s…

Read Bell’s entire commentary.

5 thoughts on “Paul Krugman’s Toxic Shock Syndrome: Mercury Madness”

  1. Andrew Wilis said he proved Fermat’ last theorem in 1993. Experts found a gap in his proof. Wilis was able to work around the problem. and his revised proof is now accepted by the Mathematical community. I have not read the proof but I am very confident that it is true because the Mathematical community knows how Mathematics is done.

    Not every subject is as clear cut as mathematics. When Mr. McIntyre said there was a weakness in Mr. Mann’s Hockey Stick paper, the equivalent to the gap in Wilis’s first proof, experts in the field and journal editors could not comprehend the nature of the challenge and kept asking Mr. McIntyre for a different argument entirely. The gap in Willis’s first proof did not mean that Fermat’s last theorem was true or false, nor did McIntyre’s challenge to the Hockey Stick say that Global Warming was true or false. It was Mr. Mann’s argument that was not valid.

    With the FDA and EPA, people could make good livings studying safety and the resulting tsunami of papers including a lot of garbage. There was a women who used brain scans with lots of ionizing x-rays to investigate the possible harm from the radio radiation, which radiation can have no chemical effect, from cell phones. When good studies showed no harm from Agent Orange or Love Canal and no Gulf War syndrome, activists summarily disregarded that evidence and dogmatically pursued their imaginations.

    Paul Krudgman is a brilliant guy who, like Peter Orzak, has confidence in the Academic Community. I wish that Mr. Krudgman and others would look into the Breast Implant and Vaccine controversies of recent times. That should tell them that one needs to suspect statements by those in the Academy, especially about heath risks. The work cited by EPA is just plain nonsense.

  2. Amazing. These are the same people who have forced the Americian consumers to buy the new fluorescent bulbs to replace out old lightbulbs. The don’t mention that he new bulbs contain small amounts of mercury, and you practically need and engineering degree to despose of them. Kudos to the EPA for another job well done.

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