New Study Reveals More Babies at Risk From Mercury

Roughly 630,000 of the 4 million children born annually in the U.S. are at risk of impaired motor function, learning capacity, memory, and vision due to high levels of mercury in their bloodstreams, revealed a U.S. EPA analysis released yesterday, which doubles the previously estimated number. While researchers once assumed that maternal and fetal blood contained equal levels of mercury, new studies of umbilical blood show that babies’ levels are approximately 70 percent higher than their mothers’. Much mercury pollution comes from coal-fired power plants; it contaminates water sources, works its way through the food chain, and ends up in seafood. This new analysis comes as the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing seafood-consumption guidelines for pregnant women, and as controversy continues to rage about the Bush administration’s plan for reducing mercury emissions, which has been widely maligned as too weak.