Coal is the main offender for global warming, and yet the world is using it more than ever, reads the headlines showing us once again how ignorant the international media and its owners are about the real issues we face on our planet. USA Today reported, “As the world’s economy boomed last year, power plants fueled by coal emitted their highest level of carbon dioxide on record.” “Though also a main contributor to air and water pollution, global warming is coal’s most serious, long-term, global impact, the Union of Concerned Scientists said. How can they get it so wrong? There is no global warming as the Grand Solar Minimum bites hard.
The real problem with coal is the highly toxic mercury that pores out of the stacks. Why do they hide the ugly truth that coal pollutes the world with mercury, a neuro-toxic heavy metal. Mercury travels great distances in the atmosphere before it is eventually deposited back to the earth in rainfall or in dry gaseous forms. Thus, mercury is a global problem that knows no national or continental boundaries.
In Pennsylvania, over 9,000 pounds of mercury is released into the air each year from sources such as power plants, municipal waste incinerators, chemical plants, and other manufacturing facilities. By far, coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury air emissions in Pennsylvania—responsible for 83% percent of mercury released in the state in 2002. In fact, Pennsylvania is ranked third in the nation for the most mercury emitted by power plants.
Mercury is a volatile, heavy metal, and, as such, can be re-emitted into the atmosphere from land and water surfaces repeatedly after its initial release into the environment. Mercury pollution is the similar to radioactive substances after an atomic war, it penetrats through everything. In fact, the FDA itself once said, “Mercury is everywhere!” And you can take the FDA literally on this for mercury is used in many vaccines as a preservative and inject directly into babies blood streams starting at six months of age. In America it is only the flu vaccine that contains mercury but in many third world countries many of the vaccines contain mercury.
In the next ten years we will pollute the world with approximately another sixty to ninety thousand tons of mercury after already adding over 600 thousand tons during the past century. That was an estimate from 10 years ago but coal emissions has only increased because of a vast increase in coal fired plants built in China.
One estimate of the total annual global mercury input to the
atmosphere from all sources including natural, anthropogenic,
and oceanic emissions in 1995 was 5,500 tons.
US Environmental Protection Agency
Even regions with no significant mercury releases, such as the Arctic, are adversely affected due to the transcontinental and global transport of mercury,” reports the United Nations Environment Programme. (UNEP) The FDA said that 2 to 3 thousand tons of metallic mercury is being released into the air from man-made sources. Mercury has spread out into the atmosphere and into the oceans where it gains strength and toxicity through the process of methylation. Mercury runs up the hill to more toxic levels with the help of fish, mammals and bacteria. Mercury bio-accumulates and undergoes bio-magnification.
States that are reporting the highest levels of mercury emissions
also have the highest rates of developmental disorders including autism.
Dr. John Palmer
Dr. Palmer from the University of Texas and a Harvard Research team published early in the 21st century that the mercury in the air was having its direct effect on our children, playing its part in the devastating epidemic of neurological disorders including autism. It is not just the fish, the vaccines or the dental amalgam that are saturating our bodies with mercury.
A two-year study of mercury accumulation in the town of Steubenville, Ohio, by federal EPA researcher Matt Landis and the University of Michigan disputes the basic EPA policy on mercury; showing emissions to be much more concentrated in local areas around power plants than thought before. The EPA contends only about 8% of the mercury from coal-burning plants, incinerators and boilers settles to the ground locally. The Steubenville study contends nearly 70% of the mercury found in the Steubenville area came from local sources
Already in 2002 43 states had issued mercury warnings for fish covering 12 million acres of lakes and 400,000 miles of rivers in the United States. Recently, researchers from the Northeastern Ecosystem Research Cooperative have, for the first time, documented elevated mercury levels in non-aquatic and non-fish-eating animals, including songbirds that live in mountaintop forests of the northeastern part of the United States.
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"Mercury’s reach in our environment is much greater than we ever imagined," said Felice Stadler of the National Wildlife Federation. The most troubling discovery to researchers was the mercury found in the blood of songbirds. The songbird data show that methylmercury is also forming in drier, forested areas, raising new questions about the extent of environmental damage. The birds exhibited the following problems from non-aquatic environmental exposure to mercury:
Fewer eggs produced, lower reproductive success, offspring less responsive to maternal calls, reduced chick survival, and decreased egg volume, compromised embryonic development, less likely to hunt, seek shade, less time flying, walking or pecking. Exaggerated response to fright stimulus. brain lesions, spinal cord degeneration, central nervous system dysfunction, tremors, difficulty flying, walking and standing, inability to coordinate muscle movement, reduced feeding, weight loss and progressive weakness in wings and legs has also been observed.
It takes no stretch of the imagination to understand that what is happening to these songbirds is happening to our children. Because mercury is an neuron-toxin that causes neurological problems, it is considered a hazardous air pollutant, which gives it a different legal status. Mercury is a nerve poison, which even at the lowest concentrations causes health problems. If one gram of mercury can pollute a 20-acre lake or kill a child, imagine what 8 to ten billion grams of it would do
Mercury soars high into the atmosphere and then around the globe on what has become a transcontinental conveyor belt of mercury polluted air. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that on certain days nearly 25 percent of the particulate matter in the skies above Los Angeles can be traced to China. Some experts predict China could one day account for a third of all California’s air pollution.
There is a horde of politicians and scientists who are obsessed with CO2 coming out of the worlds smoke stacks yet say nothing about the mercury. Mercury is a dangerous poison whereas CO2 is a necessary gas that plants and people absolutely need. A scientific study published in Nature Climate Change and highlighted by NASA reveals that rising carbon dioxide levels are having a tremendously positive impact on the re-greening of planet Earth over the last three decades, with some regions experiencing over a 50% increase in plant life. There is nothing positive to say about mercury.
EPA. Mercury Report to Congress. http://www.weblakes.com/Mercury/mercury_report.html
UNEP. Global Mercury Assessment. http://www.chem.unep.ch/mercury/Report/Key-findings.htm
http://www.fda.gov/fdac/reprints/mercury.html Last visited November 27, 2004 Mercury in Fish. This article originally appeared in the September 1994 issue of FDA Consumer and contains revisions made in May 1995.
Mercury Connections is a summary of the major findings reported in a series of 21 papers. These papers are published in: Biogeographical patterns of environmental mercury in northeastern North America. 2005. Ecotoxicology. Volume 14, numbers 1 and 2. This project was undertaken as part of The Northeastern Ecosystem Research Cooperative (NERC).NERC is an initiative to promote collaboration among ecosystem research scientists in the northeastern U.S and eastern Canada. http://www.briloon.org/mercury/BRIMercury.pdf
The world is 510 million square kilometers and 71 percent of that is ocean. One gram of mercury poured into eighty million liters of water would be cause for concern under federal human health standards for drinking water, enough to contaminate a typical mid-western lake. Thus one gram pollutes a typical 20 acre lake and 20 acres equals .081 square kilometers. One ton of mercury contains 1 million grams which would thus pollute 81,000 square kilometers of lakes. One thousand tons would pollute 81 million square kilometers, so 7,000 tons of mercury would pollute a lake the size of the world. The world is not a lake, so the one gram rule does not quite work, but it offers us a good reference point. The oceans are quite deep and the atmosphere also holds a vast capacity to hold mercury, as does the soil. But over the last five hundred years we have dug up and used approximately 1 million tons of mercury. That is 1,000,000,000,000 grams (a trillion) or enough to blanket each 20 acres on earth with over 149 grams. It is these 149 grams that is responsible for mercury levels increasing by a factor of 20 times over the last 3 centuries.