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    Wednesday, June 23, 2004

    On Beyond Precaution: A reader on mercury and precaution:

    Enjoyed the column on Tech Central concerning risk. Having managed an endangered species program and a toxic metals program, it is obvious that the present use of the "precautionary principle" has become a hazardous to our health, pocket books and personal liberty.

    I will not delve into the endangered species issues and misuse other than to say as a trained scientist I get very angry with the misuse of data, the lack of formal "scientific methods" in so called scientific studies and deliberately fighting the collection of appropriate data all the while demanding extreme regulation to restrict rather benign human activity.

    Mercury is a good example of how the focused use of the precautionary principle to prevent harm for mercury "pollution" can actually cause harm, in this case physical harm. Almost all the epidemiological studies indicate that humans that eat a high level of marine finned fish protein are healthier both in mind and body. Even in studies where entire populations feed almost exclusively on fish that are considered higher than the action levels set by the US FDA and US EPA the risks from mercury are almost non-existent and the overall benefits from eating marine finned fish are very high.  

    Biological life on earth, including humans, has been exposed to natural levels of mercury for most of our evolutionary history. A large portion of mercury pollution is from natural cause like volcanoes. Eliminating all human uses of mercury, direct and indirect, will not dramatically lower the overall burden of mercury in the earth's environment.

    Yet, our government, regardless of which party runs the show, continues to stated that eating any marine fish is hazardous to one's health due to mercury contamination. And, indeed, in the time of pending energy crisis, burning of coal would be regulated almost out of business, in spite of the fact that we are down wind from China which has ever intention of burning their coal reserves.  

    So the cost to business, the taxpayer and public health due to the mis-application of the precautionary principle relative mercury will be significant while the decrease in health risk minimal and probably unmeasureable.


    posted by Sydney on 6/23/2004 10:09:00 PM 0 comments


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