Should we be scaring people to death?
The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a fatwa against low levels of mercury in pregnant women. They say that children of women with 5.8 parts per billion of mercury in their blood are “at some increased risk of adverse health effects.” But they present no evidence of this increased risk.
According to a recent EPA report, about eight percent of American women of childbearing age have this level of mercury. But 5.8 parts per billion is 10 times less than the threshold considered safe in the scientific literature.
If such announcements had no impact we could laugh them off as bureaucratic busywork. But politicians use them to push new regulations. Yet the few outbreaks of mercury poisoning on record involve massive dumping, not some kind of diffuse emissions.
Patrick Michaels, a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute, notes that “we don’t even know how much [industrially issued mercury] gets taken up by humans. [N]o one has ever bothered to see if the mercury in Americans largely resembles the mercury, in its chemical signature, that comes out of power plants. Nor has anyone ever asked if the patterns of mercury elevation in landlocked fish . . . looks like the pattern of mercury fallout from the nation’s matrix of power plants.”
So, no real proof of a problem. Just regulators and politicians eager to show how much they care . . . no matter who they may hurt and scare in the process.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.