Hair is now a way to test people for mercury levels, as opposed to more invasive tests of blood and urine. (Photo by Anna Miller)
Health officials are experimenting with another way to gauge the level of mercury in people who eat a lot of fish. The only test sample needed is… hair. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach
Health officials are experimenting with another way to gauge the level of mercury in people who eat a lot of fish. The only test sample needed is… hair. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
Doctors can already test your blood and urine for mercury. Now, as a less invasive technique, some health officials can test the hair near your scalp for the toxic chemical. There’s some debate over the quality of the tests, the lab analyses, and over what a high test reading means. The federal health warning for mercury in hair is one part per million. But that’s for susceptible populations like an unborn fetus.
Jack Spengler is a professor of environmental health at Harvard University. he recently ate a lot of fish and says his hair tested out at 3 parts per million of mercury.
“But I’m not going apoplectic about it because I know if I just watch my consumption, I can moderate that over time… and there’s that safety margin…that I suspect I’d have to be much higher for much longer to really have symptoms. ”
Prolonged high levels of the most toxic form of mercury, methyl mercury can trigger various health problems in adults such as memory loss and cardiovascular damage.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Chuck Quirmbach.
A commission that oversees water bodies shared by the U.S. and Canada is expanding its study of water levels in the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Karen Kelly has more:
A commission that oversees water bodies shared by the U.S. and Canada is expanding its study of water levels in the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Karen Kelly reports.
The International Joint Commission recently announced it would review its regulation of water flowing in and out of Lake Superior. Any changes to Superior’s water flow could affect Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, as well. The commission is already studying similar changes in the regulation of Lake Ontario’s water. Officials say the studies were prompted by residents’ complaints about low water levels as well as the expected onset of climate change. Scientists predict this could also affect lake levels.
Peter Yee is the manager of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence regulation office for Environment Canada.
“We have the opportunity to dialogue with the public so that we have a mutual understanding and appreciation of everybody’s needs and concerns, the benefits of regulation and also the limitations of regulation.”
Public hearings are scheduled to begin this fall.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Karen Kelly.
Much of the industry in the nation’s mid-section relies on
shipments of raw materials on the Great Lakes. Great Lakes ports in the
U-S and Canada handle more than 200-million tons of material annually.
The Lakes are also a source of water and recreation for nearly a third
the nation’s population. But, during the last two years, water levels
been falling at a record breaking pace. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
From industrial processing to backyard pools, millions of gallons
of Great Lakes water are used everyday. And for many people in the
region, that water is cheap. They live in towns where they pay a flat
no matter how much they use. That’s something the International Joint
Commission wants to change. It’s asking governments to start charging
people – and industry – for the real cost of their water. The Great
Radio Consortium’s Karen Kelly reports:
Officials in three Great Lakes states are warning anglers that any fish
caught in their streams, rivers or lakes could have high levels of mercury .
The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Tom Scheck reports:
CUT: SCHECK (1:03 "…I’M TOM SCHECK.")