The Fight for Clean Air

The Problem

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin. For a child or fetus, exposure to even a little of this toxic heavy metal can harm the brain and nervous system.

Coal-fired power plants account for nearly half the mercury emissions that pollute our waterways and find their way into our food chain. This happens when coal-fired power plants emit toxic mercury that then drifts though the air and rains down into our reservoirs, rivers, lakes, and the ocean.

Microorganisms in the water then convert that mercury into a highly toxic form called methylmercury. From here, fish absorb the methylmercury through their gills. Smaller species of fish, such as anchovies, sardines, or herring can only store limited amounts of contaminants, unlike the larger predatory fish who feed on them, like tuna.

The longer a fish lives, and the larger it is, the more contaminates accumulate. King mackerel, tilefish, grouper, halibut, Atlantic salmon, tuna, swordfish, shark, ray, barramundi, gemfish and orange roughy contain high levels of mercury.

Take a look at the diagram below, from Notice how the smaller contaminated fish are consumed by the larger fish, a major reason why the fish listed above are of the most concern.

What We Can Do

According to Consumer Reports, nearly a quarter of the seafood we buy may be mislabeled and contain methylmercury. You should investigate and find out the source of your seafood, especially when feeding it to your kids.

Author and mom Ayelet Waldman decided to take action when her child was almost permanently brain damaged after eating tuna contaminated with mercury. Watch her story:

Join the Force at

A great place to start your investigation is to learn more about the Moms Clean Air Force. Not only do they provide lots of information so we can remain informed, the Moms Clean Air Force is also making sure that The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will not be delayed. This will enforce clean up and better mercury standards.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule is one of the most important clean air regulations to ever come out of the EPA. It would reduce mercury, arsenic, acid gases, and other hazardous air pollution from Americaís oldest and most polluting coal-fired power plants. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards would prevent 17,000 premature deaths every year.

MCAF joins some of the most respected medical organizations in the world-the American Lung Association; the American Medical Association; the American Heart Association; the American Academy of Pediatricians; the American Nurses Association-to ensure our children have cleaner air, water, and food. For more information and to take action visit

Please also read Lisa Stone’s post on “One-Minute Activism: How You Can Remove Poisons From Our Food and Air” and tell us why you joined Moms Clean Air Force. You could win an iPad 2 to use to continue taking action.

See official rules for details.

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Comments 4

  1. [email protected]

    what a wonderful article!

    I just saw some beautiful and stunning pictures taken by J Henry Fair:

    It’s sad!

  2. Ronnie

    I love fish and I want my children to be able to eat it some day. But, we need the coal-industry to stop poisoning our kids with mercury. Thank you so much for standing up for clean air, Jaden!

  3. Emily

    I’m all for clean air/water, etc. However, I wonder if anyone on this Clean Air Force has ever been to a coal power plant? I visited one this summer. I was shocked by how clean everything was. It’s not at all like that picture in the diagram shows it. There were no black clouds of ash and soot. The employees were very well taken care of. I think that education is needed and we need to speak with those who manufacture our energy to work out a solution. They don’t want to pollute the air and water either. They live in the same community as you do. But, the more we increase regulation, the more it will drive up the cost of energy. This is a huge burden, especially on the poor.

    Those are just my thoughts.

  4. Armand

    The best thing you can do to fight for clean air is BAN the damned leafblowers that have taken over our neighborhoods like cancer.

    If you care about your health and your children’s health…everyone needs to be up in arms about these devices but no one cares at all…it’s amazing…truly amazing. The immediate, local air pollution these devices create are ten-fold worse for you and your children…yet they are viewed as nothing but nuisances.

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