Monday, May 10, 2010

Mercury/Health Expert Slams Taiji Mercury Findings

By Hardy Jones

Dr. Jane Hightower is author of Diagnosis Mercury. She's a San Francisco based internist famous for discovering the effects of mercury on many patients suffering unknown medical symptoms. At the request of BlueVoice she comments on the results of tests of mercury levels in citizens of Taiji, Japan, the village made famous by The Cove for its heinous dolphin slaughters. The tests were carried out by the National Institute of Minamata Diseases (NIMD).

The NIMD concluded that while a significant number of citizens, especially those who ate dolphin meat, had very high levels of mercury, there was no evidence these mercury burdens were causing health problems. BlueVoice points out that internationally recognized tests for neurological function were not carried out by the NIMD researchers.

It should be also be pointed out that the tests conducted by the National Institute for Minamata Diseases were paid for - wait for it - the town of Taiji!!!

Dr. Hightower's statement:

There are many studies that confirm that methylmercury is toxic to humans and can adversely affect health in a number of ways. Of most concern with long-term over exposure is non-specific symptoms, neuropsychiatric symptoms/damage, autoantibody induction, infertility, coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, and elevated heart rate.

These adverse effects have been seen with much less exposure than what has been reported with the people of Taiji. It would be unconscionable if the Japanese government chooses to look the other way.

The Japanese government’s approval of consumers’ exposure to high mercury content as a result of a limited and inadequate study has potential for disaster.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Japan Mercury Whitewash: Report on Taiji Dolphin Meat

By Hardy Jones

Sakae Hemmi of Elsa Nature Conservancy and a long-time associate of BlueVoice, reports from Taiji, Japan that the National Institute of Minamata Disease has found extremely high levels of mercury in people who eat dolphin meat in that village made infamous by the award winning film The Cove. But they claim to have found no evidence these high levels of mercury have done any harm to those people. Results were released in a press conference Sunday in Taiji.

Unfortunately the NIMD had not conducted tests necessary to determine the impact of high mercury levels on humans including neurological tests and IQ tests. In the absence of such tests their conclusions are meaningless.

From the report faxed to me by Ms. Hemmi this morning: 1137 hair samples were tested in summer of 2009. In 43 persons the levels of mercury were higher than 50 ppm. As a reference point 1 ppm is considered the top level acceptable by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The highest tests results were for TAiji citizens who eat meat such as pilot whale.

In 2008 a Japanese journalist, Hiroshi Hasegawa, received data developed by BlueVoice that documented high levels of mercury in four dolphin-eating Taiji citizens. He then conducted additional testing that found even higher numbers for mercury among the dolphin-eating population. The results were published in AERA, a major Japanese magazine. His article spurred the NIMD to propose testing citizens of Taiji for mercury.

In a second article this reporter wrote "Through possible intentional error or plain negligence, the examination itself was outside standard neurologically based testing standards that take the brain deteriorating effects of methyl mercury poisoning into account." Those tests include the two-point discrimination test and a test for ability to discriminate three-dimensional objects by touching them. They also neglected to do IQ tests.

The upshot is that Taiji will take no action to control the sale of dolphin and whale meat.

The only good news is that studies will continue under the auspices of another organization. Those studies will particularly focus on the circulatory systems of children in Taiji.

We are seeking comment from Dr. Jane Hightower, a widely recognized experts on the impact of mercury of people who accumulate excess quantities of this heavy metal on whether it is possible to have such high levels of mercury in a human body without it causing harm.

Bottom line is that the NIMD report is a whitewash. Perhaps the scientists who conducted the studies on the dolphin-eating citizens of Taiji learned their trade from those who conduct "scientific whaling.