Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tuna Mercury

So, I'm looking for a better tuna salad recipe, because I'm bored with my current one and I find myself hating mayo and Miracle Whip, so I'm trying everything else and ranch dressing seems to be an adequate lean substitute. . . and in my searching, Google Ads for a test kit to test your hair for mercury keep appearing.  There's a lot of mercury making its way into canned tuna and sushi these days.  Light tuna is safe unless you eat it daily, Albacore (white tuna) has toxic levels of mercury.  Guess who's selling the self-test kits?  Greenpeace.  They are trying to determine if the current government regulations against emissions of mercury from coal-fired power plants are adequate.  Mercury damages the central nervous system and is particularly harmful for developing fetuses.  Scary stuff, if you ask me.  Here's an excerpt from their site.

"Why should I participate in Greenpeace's National Hair Sampling Project for Mercury Exposure?

We are encouraging you to participate because we have reason to believe that current and proposed governmental regulations for mercury are not adequate to protect the public health. You have an opportunity to ascertain for yourself whether you have an abnormal level of mercury in your system. Should you find that you do have these high levels, you can take corrective action to protect your health.

Learn more about mercury and Greenpeace's National Hair Sampling Project for Mercury."

I like cheap electricity like the next person, but my take on coal-fired power plants is that they are bad in the long term.  Scandinavian countries burn trees for electricity and the trees grow back and do not contain mercury.  In fact, when trees grow, they take carbon out of the atmosphere.  Taking carbon that's already in the biosphere and recycling it makes sense.  Taking carbon in the form of coal out of the ground and spewing it into the atmosphere in wholesale quantities, along with pollutants like mercury, can't be completely benign.  I always wonder if we would get smart and thin the trees for making power, if we'd have fewer major forest fires, which is a giant problem in the West.  Some of those old stands of treespecies burned so hot, they'll never be restored.  Before we came along there were incremental burns that happened naturally that didn't burn as hot, because there was less fuel on the ground.  We have more trees in this country now than ever were here.  Using them to make energy instead of using fossil fuels seems very logical to me.  We don't use wood to heat our homes much any more.  It's just an obvious semi-clean renewable energy source which isn't discussed much.

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