Fear of mercury poisoning

free mercury

Lovely mercury. Just don’t eat it.

The environmental debate is so corrupted by politics and propaganda that facts are often distorted and exaggeration of risk is commonplace.

The vicious war on hydrocarbon fuels is a good example where certain substances are labelled “poison” or “pollution” when associated with coal utilisation, but blithely ignored in other areas.

For example, climate alarmists have labelled carbon dioxide produced by carbon fuels as a “pollutant” and the US Supreme Court even declared it to be so. But that ignores the simple truth that 100 times more carbon dioxide exists in the lungs of every animal on earth than in the air; it is an ingredient in beer, bread and champagne; it is essential nutrition for all plant life on earth; and this plant life supports all animal life — hardly a pollutant.

With their “CO2 pollution” propaganda failing, alarmists are now accusing coal of filling the air with mercury “poison”, which sounds really scary. Their aim now is to use supposed mercury dangers to force the closure of more coal-fired power stations. This is another aspect of the war on carbon fuels — they will kill coal by fair means or foul.

However if traces of mercury are so dangerous, why do millions of people allow dentists to put silver amalgam (with 50% mercury) in their teeth? And why does the EPA ignore all the mercury waste that dentists flush down their sinks every day?

Why does the US FDA allow mercury compounds to be used in flu vaccines? The people attacking the minute amounts of mercury in coal are the same people who want us to use dangerous, mercury-filled compact fluorescent lamps.

Traces of mercury occur widely in rocks and minerals and it gets taken up in minute amounts by plants, water and animals living near those sources. When those plants form coal, tiny amounts of mercury will be there too. In rare places the mercury content of rocks is so high that dangerous quantities may get into nearby plants and sea life. In other places, bushfires release more mercury to the atmosphere than coal-fired power stations. Mercury has been circulating in the biosphere for far longer than man has been burning coal. Whether it is poison or harmless depends on the dose.

So, let us take care with mercury, but let’s not lose track of our biggest risks. Every human faces risks every day just staying alive. But emissions from modern pollution-controlled power stations using washed coal are not one of our major health hazards, especially where Australian coals are being used, because their content of mercury is so extremely low. For many people in the world, lack of electricity, starvation, drought, floods and death from exposure pose far greater dangers than the possible risk from minuscule traces of natural mercury in all plant and animal material, including coal.

For those worried about possible over-consumption of mercury, another trace metal, selenium, provides natural protection against the toxicity of mercury and cadmium. Today, the real health problem is more often a deficiency of selenium in the diet.

Viv Forbes,
Rosewood   Qld   Australia

Many labour under a fear of mercury poisoning without noticing a fear of mercury is poisoning.  – R. Treadgold

For those who wish to read more

The War on Mercury:

The Myth of Killer Mercury:

The Dangers of Mercury Amalgams in Dentistry:

Dentists pollute water with Mercury waste:

The Dangers of Mercury in Fluorescent light bulbs:

Most concerns about Mercury in fish are misguided:

Postscript — mercury poses some serious risks

Humans have long used mercury and its compounds, sometimes running far greater risks than we do today. The term “mad as a hatter” arose over 100 years ago from symptoms suffered by felt hat makers handling mercuric nitrate while making felt hats from animal fur.

Ladies once used cinnabar, a bright red natural ore of mercury, as a cosmetic and mercuro-chrome was once widely used to combat infection and scarring in wounds.

Perhaps the worst modern mercury accident occurred 50 years ago at Minamata Bay in Japan which was contaminated by mercury in waste from a plastics factory. Local residents were badly affected after eating contaminated shellfish from the bay.

Another incident in New Zealand, initially blamed on run-off from an old gold mine, involved mercury contamination of coastal fish. Then it was remembered that there was a fish of that type in the museum that had been caught before gold was discovered. This fish also contained mercury. It was then found that the rock and soil near the sea contained higher than normal levels of mercury which was probably the source of the mercury in the fish.

More recently, many lighthouses turned on a bath of mercury and there are millions of mercury-filled thermometers and electrical switches still in use.

Every activity in life involves risk. Every person must balance those risks and rewards sensibly.


Views: 119

17 Thoughts on “Fear of mercury poisoning

  1. Richard C (NZ) on 04/06/2014 at 8:26 pm said:

    >”….they will kill coal by fair means or foul.”

    And “peaceful means” too (see below).

    But lets be sure who “they” are and why. A good start is the USA and Obama’s science adviser Dr. John Holdren, co-author of this document:

    ‘Human Ecology: Problems & Solutions’

    Paul Ehrlich, Anne Ehrlich, & John Holdren


    Chapter TEN
    Synthesis and Recommendations [Page 277]

    Recommendations: A Positive Program


    1 Population control is absolutely essential if the problems now facing mankind are to be solved. It is not, however, a panacea. If population growth were halted immediately, virtually all other human problems-poverty, racial tensions, urban blight, environmental decay, warfare-would remain. On the other hand, direct attacks on these problems will ultimately fail if the human population continues to grow. The situation is best summarized in the state­ment: “Whatever your cause, it’s a lost cause without population control.”

    2 Political pressure must be applied immediately to induce the United States government to assume its responsibility to halt the growth of the Ameri­can population. Once growth is halted, the government should undertake to influence the birth rate so that the population is reduced to an optimum size and maintained there. It is essential that a grassroots political movement be [Page 279]generated to convince our legislators and the executive branch of the govern­ment that they must act promptly. The program should be based on what poli­ticians understand best-votes. Presidents, Congressmen, Senators, and other elected officials who do not deal effectively with the crisis must be defeated at the polls, and more intelligent and responsible candidates must be elected. […] but we see no choice but to launch a prolonged and determined attempt to wrest control of the political system from the special interests which now run it and to turn it over to the people.

    3 A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environ­ment in North America and to de-develop the United States.

    De-development means bringing our economic system (especially patterns of consumption) into line with the realities of ecology and the global resource situation. Resources and energy must be diverted from frivolous and wasteful uses in overdevel­oped countries to filling the genuine needs of underdeveloped countries. This effort must be largely political, especially with regard to our overexploitation of world resources, but the campaign should be strongly supplemented by legal and boycott action against polluters and others whose activities damage the environment. The need for de-development presents our economists with a major challenge. They must design a stable, low-consumption economy in which there is a much more equitable distribution of wealth than in the present one. Redistribution of wealth both within and among nations is absolutely essential, if a decent life is to be provided for every human being.

    4 Once the United States has clearly started on the path of cleaning up its own mess, it can then turn its attention to the problems of the de-development of the other DCs, population control, and ecologically feasible development of the UDCs. It must use every peaceful means at its disposal to persuade the Soviet Union and other DCs to join the effort………….

    # # #

    To be clear, the “United States” is the federal animal, very much different to each constituent state a couple of dozen of which have moved to legally seek state sovereignty in the event of federal overreach. The best example being the circumvention of Congress by Obama and the EPA for the purposes of the “war on coal”.

    And de-development of USA, and then every other developed country (DC) from 3 and 4 above, runs concurrent with population control in 1 and 2 (the real priority) of the “positive program” espoused by the US President’s scientific advice. Program items 1 and 2, and the logical progression, nothing new in the USA of course. Eugenics was practiced there before it was adopted by Nazi Germany and U.S. programs provided much of the inspiration for the Nazis:

    ‘Eugenics in the United States’


    “Whatever your cause, it’s a lost cause without population control” – that’s who “they” are and why.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 04/06/2014 at 8:59 pm said:

      [Holdren/Ehrlich] – “de-develop the United States”

      [Obama] – “The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But a low-carbon, clean energy economy can be an engine of growth for decades to come.

      “America will build that engine. America will build the future. A future that’s cleaner, more prosperous, and full of good jobs. A future where we can look our kids in the eye and tell them we did our part to leave them a safer, more stable world.”

      Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/is-that-a-lump-of-coal-or-are-you-feeling-happy-20140602-39f13.html#ixzz33fB1MwuI

      Engine of growth? I don’t think so. An engine of decay is the real objective.

    • Egad, that’s disturbing! However, expressing a philosophy and an intention, no matter how disturbed or out of tune with public sentiment it might be, is not by itself evidence of implementation. Nor is the control being exerted over carbon ‘pollution’ easily transferred to, for example, control of wages or effective population control.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 04/06/2014 at 10:14 pm said:

      >”…..seek state sovereignty in the event of federal overreach”

      ‘Obama Renews Climate Change Fight, His EPA Wages War On State Sovereignty’

      […] A new report from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) lays out, in stark detail, the deleterious effects of this rampant expansion of the EPA. The introduction lays out the original intent of the EPA: ……….

      […] And that’s what Congress intended when first forming the EPA, to set standards that local officials would then implement, with technical and financial support from the EPA.

      Under the Obama administration, however, this balance has been altered to give EPA much more dictatorial power over the states: ………….


      ‘State sovereignty still being contested with EPA’ [Kentucky]

      Related posts [links]:

      Federal bill would enforce state sovereignty for energy
      ALEC shows Kentucky’s issue with the EPA is a matter of state sovereignty
      Debate set for May 21 with state sovereignty over Kentucky’s energy sector on the line
      Obama’s EPA knows that his executive orders will cost jobs and raise energy rates
      Kentucky Energy Equation – EPA strikes at energy sovereignty in Kentucky once again


      A rocky road ahead for USA’s energy states if the current state-of-play is anything to go by.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 04/06/2014 at 10:29 pm said:

      >”Nor is the control being exerted over carbon ‘pollution’ easily transferred to, for example, control of wages…….”

      It was easy in Kentucky (see article above):

      “According to AK Steel, the closure of the facility was “the result of significantly higher operational costs related to the Obama Administration’s War on Coal and the EPA’s increasingly stringent regulations.” 350 jobs were lost as a direct result, and Ashland payroll was reduced by $500,000.”

      >”……expressing a philosophy and an intention, no matter how disturbed or out of tune with public sentiment it might be, is not by itself evidence of implementation”

      Re “effective population control”, not yet. But the point is that a eugenics program has been implemented in the USA before i.e. there is precedent. And although population control is item 1 and 2 the current focus (“cause”) is 3 and 4 of the “positive program” which is definitely being implemented.

      But, “Whatever your cause, it’s a lost cause without population control”

    • Richard C (NZ) on 04/06/2014 at 11:28 pm said:

      ‘Coal-state lawmakers rally against power plant emissions crackdown’

      Published June 03, 2014. FoxNews.com

      Coal-state lawmakers, accusing President Obama of using a back door to impose strict emissions limits on power plants, are rallying to slam that door shut — claiming the plan would cost jobs and jack up electric bills.

      In Kentucky, West Virginia, and other states that rely on coal to fuel their own economies — and that help generate power for everybody else — officials vowed Monday to introduce legislation halting the newly announced EPA plan.


    • Richard C (NZ) on 05/06/2014 at 2:06 am said:

      >”Re “effective population control”, not yet.”

      Well, don’t know whether effective yet but there is already the US Global Health Initiative (US$63 billion) and United Nations Population Fund ($648 million from US):

      ‘Hillary Clinton: Population Control Will Now Become The Centerpiece Of U.S. Foreign Policy’

      October 16, 2012

      “You see, whenever the global elite want to launch another new eugenics operation, they announce it as a great “humanitarian program” that will save millions of lives. But their real goal is to control the population and prevent millions of lives from being born. The United Nations Population Fund has been promoting abortion, forced sterilization and radical population control measures around the globe for decades, and Hillary Clinton was super excited to talk about how the U.S. government recently renewed funding for that organization”


      # # #

      US population control activities began at home and moved abroad. Question is: how long before the enthusiasm for “global” population control turns its attention home again? I count 17 US individuals in the following:

      ’30 Population Control Quotes That Show That The Elite Truly Believe That Humans Are A Plague Upon The Earth’


      Not necessarily radical either. There’s an angle of pragmatism about some of the ideas, e.g.

      14. Detroit News Columnist Nolan Finley: “Since the national attention is on birth control, here’s my idea: If we want to fight poverty, reduce violent crime and bring down our embarrassing drop-out rate, we should swap contraceptives for fluoride in Michigan’s drinking water. We’ve got a baby problem in Michigan. Too many babies are born to immature parents who don’t have the skills to raise them, too many are delivered by poor women who can’t afford them, and too many are fathered by sorry layabouts who spread their seed like dandelions and then wander away from the consequences.”

      Just how out of tune with public sentiment is that?

    • Richard C (NZ) on 05/06/2014 at 7:39 pm said:

      >‘Coal-state lawmakers rally against power plant emissions crackdown’

      ‘Reid blocks GOP bill mitigating EPA’s new carbon emissions rule’

      “The rule will not become effective for a long time,” Reid explained, noting that the EPA plans to have the rule take effect in June 2015.

      Reid said he would be as “cooperative as I feel appropriate” with Republicans, but said, “at this time, I object.” Reid also held out the idea that Democrats want to use the 120-day comment period to seek their own improvements to the rule, but he wasn’t more specific.


    • Richard C (NZ) on 08/06/2014 at 3:34 pm said:

      ‘No authority for federal emissions rule’

      CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says federal regulators don’t have authority to implement a wide-reaching scale-back on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

      The Republican made the assertion in a Friday letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy.

      Since coal plants are covered elsewhere in the Clean Air Act, Morrisey says EPA can’t further regulate them.

      Morrisey says EPA relies on a technical error made when Congress amended the act in 1990.

      The rule aims to curb global warming by cutting emissions by 30 percent nationally by 2030, compared to 2005.

      West Virginia would have to drop emissions by 19.8 percent by 2030, compared to 2012.

      The state gets 96 percent of its electricity from coal.

      Morrisey says he will take any legal actions necessary against the rule.

      — The Associated Press


  2. Richard C (NZ) on 04/06/2014 at 11:37 pm said:

    2013 Bluegrass Energy Report: The EPA’s Economic Impact on Kentucky

    Page 9:

    The most costly of the EPA’s new regulations affecting Kentucky coal-fired power plants,
    Utility MACT and its MATS rules, are meant to reduce mercury and air toxics emissions. In a
    December 2011 report on the economic benefits of such regulations, the EPA cited reduced levels
    of methylmercury, a toxic substance found in waterways that affects developmental and
    cognitive capacities of children. The EPA assigns a monetary value between $500,000 and
    $6.2 million per year for these specific benefits. The EPA claims that Utility MACT and MATS
    rules overall will add anywhere from $33 to $90 billion per year to our nation’s productive
    output. However as stated above, the miniscule reduction in mercury pollution is the only
    economic benefit that can be directly attributed to these new regulations – and that’s $6.2
    million annually according to the EPA. Where then does the rest of this value come from?

    In her testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety,
    Susan E. Dudley, director of George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies program,
    explained that:

    EPA goes on to argue that its rule will generate additional “cobenefits”
    that more than make it worthwhile … co-benefits that
    arise not directly from reducing toxic emissions, but from other
    things EPA’s models predict will happen as beneficial side effects
    of the controls that will be required by the rule.
    Ninety-nine percent of the benefits attributed to the MATS
    rule are derived by assigning high dollar values to reductions in
    emissions of fine particles (PM2.5), which are not the focus
    of this regulation and which are regulated elsewhere.44

    So, 99 percent of the value created by MATS regulations is derived from “co-benefits” already
    addressed under existing EPA regulations. Still, Utility MACT will force all power plants in the
    commonwealth to install costly emission controls, although Kentucky has reduced these
    emissions – and at an accelerating rate – since 1990. As a result, the MACT rule might be a
    good idea for other states, but for Kentucky it would be an extremely costly rule that would
    achieve little to no observable benefit. Further, if it were somehow desirable to
    decrease fine particle (PM2.5) emissions more than is required for human health, the EPA
    should enact regulations that directly address these particles, not mercury pollutants.


    • Richard C (NZ) on 05/06/2014 at 5:14 pm said:


      American Legislative Exchange Council [ALEC]

      Page 17,

      [Note: Utility Maximum Available Control Technology (MACT) regulation establishes the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS)]

      In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board that he would “bankrupt” the coal industry if elected president.42 Since 2009, the EPA has been fulfilling this promise, by subjecting coal-fired electricity generation to unprecedented regulatory assault.

      In February 2012, for example, the EPA promulgated a rule known as the Utility MACT. It will cost the power industry—and, ultimately, ratepayers—almost $10 billion annually. The regulation’s purpose is to protect a supposed population of pregnant, subsistence fisherwomen, who consume at least 225 pounds of self-caught fish from exclusively the 90th percentile most polluted fresh, inland water bodies. Notably, the EPA has never identified a single member of this putative population. Rather, they are modeled to exist.43

      West Virginia, 96%
      Kentucky, 93%
      Wyoming, 86%
      Indiana, 86%
      Missouri, 82%
      Utah, 82%
      Ohio, 78%
      North Dakota, 78%
      New Mexico, 71%
      Nebraska, 71%

      The EPA’s proposed Carbon Pollution Standard would take coal off the table as a fuel resource.

      Page 18,

      According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, almost 81,000 megawatts of electricity generation are “likely” to retire because of regulatory costs (see Figure 6). Equivalent to an energy blackout through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Idaho


  3. RC,

    Hillary Clinton: Population Control…
    US population control activities… etc.

    That is disturbing.

    Just how out of tune with public sentiment is that?

    Which public? It’s like polling a bunch of quarrelling tribes. Some of them are entirely composed of lazy, ignorant, selfish no-hopers barely existing through yet another dreary, fearful day in which the highest possible aspiration would be a chance for sex, closely followed for many of them by a chance to score a hit. The possibility of working towards a better life for their community, if it ever rose in their mind, they crushed long ago in the face of a thousand objections.

    They’ll never reach a consensus. The best that might happen is that a strong, rational leader will come along and do “the right thing” for them. Democracy does not work except among the educated, literate and alert. Those who sleep must be governed by others whether they will or no. If that means forced population control, then they’ll get it. The ones who are aware will fight it, as they should.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 05/06/2014 at 2:58 pm said:

      >”Which public?”

      Good question. I’m not trying to create an impression that (e.g. Michigan example #14) the pervading sentiment of the public who are still actively engaged in the democratic process (and who therefore give mandate to their elected) is a mind to rid society of the unproductive excess that drags on government budget allocations and is a constant threat to personal and property security. This in areas where the ability to work and earn is severely diminished resulting in energies directed elsewhere (e.g. Detroit Michigan). I’m sure though, that with enough exposure to the ill-effects of trying to live a “normal” existence in such an area that the above sentiment could easily take root and be accepted when offered as an option to society. The policy then, rather than resisted, is just accepted as the solution. Remember that, in Germany, eradication of Jews was characterized as the “Final Solution” that pandered to the sentiment of the people at the time most of which were educated, literate and alert i.e. political opportunism as circumstances permitted.

      The population control sentiment does exist elsewhere however and manifests in climate change discussions. Have you noticed in comment forums of major newspapers that there’s usually at least one comment framing the issue in terms of population? It always reminds me that it is probably a sentiment carried by others too but not voiced because they don’t frequent forums. I also wonder about the wider mindset in regard to race, colour, unemployment, single mothers, or whatever else defines what “should” or “should not” make up the populace given their framing of climate. I see this as a major division among supporters of green objectives. A faction is clearly in favour of global population reduction strategies but another faction considers that abhorrent.

      In regard to the working class, shutting down productive sectors of an economy over and above natural attrition such as the demise of car manufacturing in Michigan (and Australia soon too) by govt policy (war on coal) is a form of population control but the consequences haven’t been addressed yet. Kentucky coal is a US$5bn sector of the state economy, what replaces that? There is no alternative economic activity of that value. So what does the Kentucky population currently earning from some aspect of coal production do instead? Basket weaving?

      >”The best that might happen is that a strong, rational leader will come along and do “the right thing” for them”

      Except that is not the demographic that aspiring political leaders tap into. They (the underclass) are the problem, the solution is offered not to them but to earners paying the taxes. What I’m getting at is what do the following lack in common: the underclass in Michigan with time on their hands now that car manufacturing has gone; ex Kentucky coal workers if Obama and the EPA get their way; and, Australian auto workers soon to be out of work prospects? Answer: they lack political clout and taxpaying ability i.e. they are part of the problem class, “the right thing” for them is not necessarily for their benefit.

      US population control “solutions” are currently directed at the problem class overseas but given enough problem class at home it is not out of the question that the fractional sentiment of the public who matter to the politician (the public with political clout and taxpaying ability) is enough to usher in some form of population “solution” by those in power. It doesn’t need a majority or groundswell, just a foothold. For example George W. Bush stopped funding The United Nations Population Fund, Barack Obama started funding it again – why? How many US citizens really wanted that?

      I think we’re seeing a war on soul as much as a war on coal.

  4. stan stendera on 07/06/2014 at 5:24 pm said:

    Hi. I haven’t been here in a while (my bad) and today is my first sighting of the new format. I likes it!!

    • That’s good, thanks, Stan. It might change again, I’m still looking!

      But tonight, I’m about to prepare pan-fried blue cod and pancetta on a bed of spicy potato mash with Asian greens, berry ice cream and home-made sparkling lemon-ginger cordial, and then I shall watch the All Blacks take on the English! May they tackle those lily-white northerners to a standstill and set up a thrilling series whitewash!!

  5. Richard C (NZ) on 08/06/2014 at 4:10 pm said:

    National Association of Scholars: ‘much of the U.S.-sponsored research behind the “scientific consensus” on global warming may be less rigorous than its advocates would have the public believe’

    Posted on June 7, 2014 by Anthony Watts

    Short-Circuiting Peer Review in Climate Science

    Peter Wood, Rachelle DeJong. National Association of Scholars

    How reliable are the scientific findings on which the Environmental Protection Agency bases its proposed regulations? According to a new research report, many of the findings connected to the EPA’s attempt to regulate greenhouse gas emissions may be compromised by a short-circuiting of peer review.


    Follow the money:

    “By way of detail, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) comprises thirteen federal research agencies. It has received approximately $2.5 billion in federal funding each year for the last three years, which it then distributes to its constituent agencies. Of this money, NASA has been receiving approximately 56%, and the Department of Commerce (DOC) and National Science Foundation (NSF) have each been receiving about 13%, in addition to other direct federal grants. The USGCRP also supports the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC), which releases periodic climate assessments that set the tone for many national and international environmental policies.”

    Get that?

    $2.5 billion in federal funding each year for the last three years!

  6. quentinf on 06/07/2014 at 8:13 pm said:

    Interesting about Selenium. China discovered that the oldest persons in several villages and by old we are talking about average age of 100+ and 120! Have high selenium in the water.

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