Poison Propaganda. The environmental debate today is so corrupted by politics and propaganda that facts are too often distorted, and exaggeration of risk is commonplace.
The vicious war on hydro-carbon 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 just another aspect of the war on carbon fuels – they want to kill coal by fair means or foul.
However if tiny 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?
And why does the US FDA allow mercury compounds to be used in flu vaccines? And the people attacking the minute amount of mercury in coal are the same people promoting dangerous mercury-laden compact fluorescent lights.
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 traces of mercury may 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 where our biggest risks occur. 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 risk that there may be from miniscule traces of mercury occurring naturally in all plant and animal material, including coal.
For those worried about possible over-consumption of mercury, another trace metal, selenium, provides natural protection. Today, the real health problem is more often a deficiency of selenium in the diet.
Rosewood Qld Australia
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: