The leachate samples showed the presence of five chemicals that exceeded drinking water standards, including arsenic, vanadium, molybdenum, iron and nickel. But the most troublesome statistic is mercury. Samples, provided by CMS Energy, show mercury levels up to 900 times higher than what’s safe for fish (called aquatic toxicity). The standard for discharging mercury into a body of water is very tight—1.3 parts per trillion. In fact, it’s far stricter than for drinking water, which allows 2,000 parts per trillion.
That’s because mercury bio-accumulates in fish, which people obviously eat. Mercury levels have been on the rise in the Great Lakes, as more from coal combustion is emitted into the atmosphere. In the last decade, health officials have learned more about the devastating effects of mercury, especially on babies born to pregnant women who eat fish. The mercury flows through the mother’s bloodstream and ultimately settles into the brain of the fetus.
Studies, including one paid for by the National Institute of Environmental Health and Sciences and the Environment and Climate Research Program in Europe, show that children exposed to mercury in utero suffer from attention deficit disorder, a reduced IQ by as much as 24 points, and impaired memory and speaking abilities. Anne Stanton, Northern Express
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