Residents who live in the shadow of the Hatfield’s Ferry coal plant gathered today to volunteer a small portion of their hair for a nationwide scientific study of mercury exposure. The sampling event, conducted by Greenpeace, comes weeks after activists from the environmental group raised attention to the issue of power plant pollution with a large banner hang at the Hatfield’s Ferry plant. The open house at the Italo-American Club collected data for Greenpeace’s Nationwide Hair Sampling Project and educated those in attendance about the growing national concern over the levels of the toxic metal mercury in people’s bodies.
The Greenpeace Mercury study was created in reaction to a Bush
Administration proposal to weaken a Clinton-era decision that would
have reduced mercury emissions from power plants, a leading cause
of mercury pollution in the United States, by 90 percent by 2008.
"Mercury emissions from coal power plants are dangerous and toxic
to our environment and the fish we eat", stated Casey Harrell,
Greenpeace Clean Energy Now! Campaigner. "Masontown residents, like
all people, have a right to know what is in their bodies and they
also have the right to know why their President is not protecting
their health from this poison."
"Mercury exposure in children can affect critical neurological
development including memory, language, motor skills and other
brain functions. This damage can permanently affect their quality
of life, academic success and economic prospects in life," Harrell
continued. "When the Centers for Disease Control estimates that as
many as 630,000 infants (1 in 6) are born in the U.S. every year
with a risk of having unsafe amounts of mercury in their bodies, we
know that mercury poisoning is at a near epidemic level. Today,
residents living in Masontown can learn about this problem, get
tested, and through this knowledge, learn how to keep their levels
of mercury low.
"The Masontown community deserves better. Hatfield's Ferry is
one of the nation's dirtiest power plants, and Allegheny Energy
refuses to clean it up" said Lisa Graves Macucci of the Jefferson
Action Group. "They are putting their profits ahead of our
Greenpeace also used the testing event to highlight renewable
energy, a viable replacement to the nation's largest mercury
source, coal power, as the group showcased its Rolling Sunlight
solar demonstration vehicle outside the salon. "There's no reason
why people must continue to have increased mercury poisoning,
asthma attacks and global warming pollution from dirty energy like
coal when clean energy is available now", said Rolling Sunlight
driver Angie McIntosh, as she displayed the vehicle's solar
The Hair Sampling for Mercury
Project is part of Greenpeace's Clean Energy Now campaign. The
Greenpeace Clean Energy Now! campaign is part of a global campaign
that is committed to ending our addiction to fossil fuels by
promoting and requiring the increased use of clean energy and
energy efficiency as solutions for the world's growing power needs.
The campaign has been successful by working with local and state
governments, students, and other groups to stop dirty energy
projects and to increase investment in clean energy.