August 10, 2005
Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific, But How Much Mercury Is In It?
Tuesday in Carbondale Sierra Club teamed up with a local hair salon to test the hair of local residents for mercury pollution. Levels of toxic mercury in your blood can also show up in your hair, so just a small lock of your hair can give you a very basic idea of whether you are carrying a heavy load of the toxic chemical that is linked to numerous serious health problems, particularly for developing fetuses and children.
People lined up outside the door to see if they have been impacted by mercury pollution, most of which comes from coal-burning power plants. The tests will be processed in the weeks ahead, and the results given confidentially to the participants. The overall results will be compiled with others from around the country.
The Southern Illinoisan has a nice story on the event at:
The main way most people are exposed to mercury is through the fish they eat. Mercury in coal is vaporized when the coal is burned, and it goes up the stack into the sky, only to come down in the rain. Certain species of ocean fish, such as swordfish, mackerel, and certain tunas, and virtually all large predator fish (bass, walleye, bluegill) from Illinois waters are risky dishes, particularly for women who may have children in the future.
Technology exists to reduce the mercury coming out of coal plants by 90%, but is not required in Illinois.
Would you like to get your hair tested for mercury pollution? We are looking for more locations around the state to do similar tests this fall. If you know of a salon that might be interested in hosting an event near you, let us know.