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Global Warming Makes Mercury Pollution Worse

The UN Environment Program (UNEP) says pollution from everything from gold mining to burning coal in power stations has tripled mercury levels in the air. Mercury gets into the food chain, and can cause brain and nerve damage resulting in impaired coordination, blurred vision, tremors, irritability and memory loss. Klaus Toepfer of UNEP says, "Things could get worse in the coming years, as increases in temperature also appear to help the spread of the mercury."

Over 1,500 tons of mercury is pumped into the air every year by power stations in Asia and Africa. In small-scale mining, mercury is used to help extract gold and silver from the ores, releasing 400-500 tons of mercury each year. A U.S. study found one in 12 women have mercury levels in their bodies above safe levels. As a result, 300,000 babies in the U.S. could be at risk of brain damage that leads to learning difficulties.

California activists want to force five supermarket chains to warn customers about mercury in fish and are planning to sue stores after tests revealed dangerously high levels of mercury in their tuna, swordfish and shark. The stores named in the lawsuit are Safeway, Kroger, Albertsons, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. Tests also revealed elevated mercury in swordfish and tuna samples from Andronico's Market and Costco, as well as swordfish from a Red Lobster restaurant.

"Contamination of seafood is a serious health threat," says Activist Doug Israel, "and it's the responsibility of retailers, as well as state health agencies and the federal government, to let the public know about the impact of the seafood they're eating."

Global warming will change the foods we eat as well as where they?re grown. Listen to Henry Willis on Dreamland, as he tellsall about it.

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