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E-M:/ 1-2-04 Detroit News op-ed

Crack down on toxic

Gov. Jennifer Granholm gave
Michigan's children a great
Christmas present when
she signed bills to protect them
from lead-based paint ("State
aims to cut lead poisoning in chil-
dren," Dec. 22). But the governor
has not acted quickly enough to
protect children from a similar
toxin that is even more pervasive:
mercury. Like lead, mercury is a
dangerous neurological toxin that
is especially harmful to children
and fetuses.
We have the technological
capability to capture most of the
mercury that is emitted into the
air. But unlike leaded gasoline,
which was phased out in the Unit-
ed States between 1975 and 1986,
we have not clamped down on the
largest sources of mercury pollu-
tion - coal-fired power plants.
The truth is that we can cut mer-
cury emissions from power plants
by 90 percent, and several states
already have. Granholm made a
campaign promise to phase out
mercury emissions, but we still
have seen no reductions. Mean-
while, one in six children born in
the United States have already
been exposed to enough mercury
to cause permanent damage.
When it comes to our children's
health, we deserve much more.

Kate Madigan