The results of the nation’s largest mercury hair-sampling project were released today, and the survey found mercury levels exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limit in one in five women of childbearing age tested across the country, but a higher rate (one in four) of contamination among Chicago-area women of childbearing age who participated in the survey.
As part of the national study, Sierra Club offered free mercury hair tests at Chicago-area salons in September and October of 2005. 104 Chicago-area residents participated in the testing events held in Highland Park, Warrenville, Willowbrook, Joliet, and in the Ravenswood, Bucktown, and Pilsen neighborhoods in Chicago. 53 were women of childbearing age, and 24.5%, or 1 in 4, were found to exceed the limit.
The Chicago-area numbers are not statistically significant, but they are cause for concern. We will continue to offer testings later this Spring to help more people learn their mercury levels, and to continue to increase the sample size in this important study.
More details are available here