September 27, 2005
Got Mercury? Get Tested!
With evidence mounting about the dangers of mercury contamination to the health of Illinois children, Sierra Club is sponsoring a series of mercury testing events this fall at locations across Illinois. Sierra Club is teaming up with local hair salons to offer a simple test that measures mercury pollution in a person’s body from a sample of their hair.
1 in 6 women of childbearing age in the U.S. already has enough mercury in her body to put a fetus at risk of learning disabilities and developmental problems. Illinois residents who have been wondering just how much mercury is in their bodies—and what can be done about it, can now find out easily by having a small lock of hair clipped and tested for mercury exposure at one of these events.
Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury pollution in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Public Health has issued warnings about the dangers of eating large fish out of any Illinois river or lake. People who eat these fish, or certain types of ocean fish, including tuna and swordfish, may accumulate unhealthy levels of mercury in their bodies.
The test takes only minutes, and is free to the first 20 attendees at each location. Hair samples will be taken by a professional stylist. Individual results are confidential, reported only to each person tested. The samples are being taken as part of a national study of mercury contamination levels, with the samples analyzed by the Environmental Quality Institute (EQI) at the University of North Carolina-Asheville.
The tests begin today with an event in Willowbrook, and include events in the north, west, and south suburbs, north and south sides of Chicago, Peoria, and the metro East region. For a complete list of events, and to make a reservation, see www.illinois.sierraclub.org.