Mercury Taints Rivers, Lakes in US

Medical Authors and Editors Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D. and Frederick Hecht, M.D.

August 25, 2004 -- The EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) has released its annual summary of information on fish advisories and safe-eating guidelines. This information is provided to EPA annually by states, territories and tribes.

The EPA Perspective

"Emissions are down, and emissions will continue to go down as the Bush Administration takes the first-ever steps to regulate mercury from coal-fired power plants," said EPA Administrator Michael O. Leavitt.

"Human-caused mercury emissions in this country have dropped 50 percent since 1990, and the Bush Administration is in the process of regulating mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants for the first time in our nation's history. The final rule, which will be promulgated by March 15, 2005, will be one component of the Agency's overall effort to reduce mercury emissions domestically and internationally."

These statements are contained in an EPA news release yesterday.

The Story from Another Perspective

"The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday that fish in virtually all of the nation's lakes and rivers were contaminated with mercury, a highly toxic metal that poses health risks for pregnant women and young children," commented The New York Times today on page 19.

"Michael O. Leavitt, the EPA administrator,'" continued The New York Times, "drew his conclusion from the agency's latest annual survey of fish advisories, which showed that 48 states -- all but Wyoming and Alaska -- issued warnings about mercury last year. That compared with 44 states in 1993, when the surveys were first conducted."