Thursday, June 11, 2009

Killing You Slowly

Full disclosure. I was born in West Virginia and still have a lot of relatives there. In spite of being called a "hillbilly" and a "ridge runner" and a few other choice names I am still proud of my "Mountain Mama" heritage.

However, I might have to rethink this whole "Take Me Home Country Roads" thing in light of the latest brilliance from the West Virginia DEP. This is really stupid but believe it or not, these folks have decided that it is OK for West Virginia waters to have higher levels of mercury in them than is recommended by the EPA because, get this... "West Virginians eat less fish than the average American".

The DEP's study shows that West Virginians consume less fish than the national average, and the agency is using the results to say mercury levels in West Virginia's waterways can be higher than the federal EPA recommends.

The Clean Water Act recommends that mercury not exceed 0.3 micrograms per gram of fish tissue.

West Virginia's standards are less stringent-0.5 micrograms per gram.

But that's okay, the DEP says, because a study conducted in November showed that West Virginians actually eat less fish than the national average.

Mike Arcuri is an environmental resources analyst with DEP's water quality standards program.

"The more fish people consume in a given area, the lower that number has to be in order to keep the public safe, if that makes any sense," he said. "And then if people are consuming lower numbers of fish, that number in the fish tissue can be a little bit higher because they're not taking as much in."

I don't want to even think where this kind of logic will take you. Just ignore the fact that mercury accumulates in the body.

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