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New Study: One in Three Illinois Legislators Test With Unsafe Levels of Mercury
Friday December 8, 1:14 pm ET

Sample of the General Assembly finds 9 of 28 members tested with amounts of mercury in their system above federally established levels

CHICAGO, Dec. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- One in three of the members of the Illinois General Assembly who participated in a blind test for exposure to mercury exceeded the safe level for women between the ages of 16 to 49 and for children under age 16, according to a new report released today by the coalition Mercury Free Illinois. The standard -- 1 part per million (ppm) -- has been established for health reasons by The U.S. EPA and FDA. Similar test results released earlier this year by the Sierra Club showed that one in five women tested nationally had elevated mercury levels, while among Chicago participants the rate rose to one in four

"The 28 legislators who volunteered to be tested have proven to be literal representatives for Illinois citizens, who are exposed to one of the worst mercury contamination problems of any state in the country," said Jonathan Goldman, Executive Director of the Illinois Environmental Council.

The Illinois Pollution Control Board (PCB) has recently approved regulations proposed by Governor Blagojevich to limit mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants by 90 percent by 2009. Coal plants are the largest source of mercury pollution in Illinois' environment. The proposed regulations are now being reviewed by the Illinois General Assembly's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, which will vote on the measure next Tuesday, December 12th.

"There is a statewide fish advisory in Illinois, and you can see why it's needed with results like what we've found with this test. Illinois needs to protect our citizens by limiting the mercury in the environment, not by limiting the fish we eat from our waters," said Jean Flemma, Executive Director of Prairie Rivers Network.

Source: Mercury Free Illinois

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