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Monday, April 23, 2007

Oprah's Down the Rabbit Hole

I have an on-going theme in 2007 for my newsletter, herbalYODA Says! It has to do with a single issue I have named 'falling for fabrication'. I titled it this way because as I peruse the plethora of news reports of interest to me - those about health and environment, nutrition, electrosmog and related topics - I see an overall pattern of what is pure propaganda.

Nowadays some folks take exception with Noam Chomsky but at the very least he makes you think. He also addresses issues of 'falling for fabrication' in his well known book, 'Manufacturing Consent'.

This is an important concept and it is aimed at directing your thinking and decision making to more or less a 'mob mentality'.

Now this brings us to mercury. You know that slippery, shiny heavy metal that is very toxic to humans, plants and animals, and the environment.

Mercury (chemical symbol Hg(C.A.S. 7439-97-6)) is
an element that occurs naturally in the environment. It is a silver-white, heavy metal that is liquid at room temperature; as a solid, it is tin-white and can be cut with a knife. It can also be found in compounds with other chemicals such as chlorine in the same way that sodium is found in table salt.

Mercury is used in pure form in thermometers, barometers, and other consumer products. Batteries containing mercury are used in devices ranging from guided missiles and space craft to hearing aids, cameras, toys, portable radios, calculators, measuring devices, smoke alarms, self-winding watches, and radio microphones. Electric or mercury lamps are used for outdoor lighting, including floodlights and street lights, motion picture projection, health treatment, and photography. Mercury is also used as a catalyst in the production of vinyl chloride monomer, urethane foam, and anthraquinone. It is used in diuretics, antiseptics, and skin preparations.

Prior to August 20, 1990, mercury was added to paints as an anti-mildew agent, antibacterial agent, and fungicide; about one-third of all interior latex paint contained varying levels of mercury. (Oil-based paint does not contain mercury.) Mercury is also used in pigments, refining, lubrication oils, and dental amalgams.

Mercury in one form, "organic mercury," can become highly concentrated in the flesh of certain fish. For this reason relatively low levels of mercury contamination in the ocean and lakes can lead to toxic contamination of these fish. Organic compounds of mercury are phenylmercury acetate (C8H8HgO2) and methylmercuric chloride (CH3HgCl). Other compounds of mercury, called "inorganic mercury," are mercury, mercuric II acetate or mercury salt (HgC4H6O4c), mercuric II chloride (HgCl2c), and mercurous I chloride (Hg2Cl2c).

Chemical properties:

Mercury that is released into the environment will remain there indefinitely. The form that mercury exists in (organic or inorganic) may change with time. Some or all of released organic mercury will slowly decompose to become inorganic mercury. Some portion of released inorganic mercury will be slowly transformed into organic mercury by bacteria in soil or water.

Mercury is not flammable and does not have an odor. Some mercury salts and organic compounds are soluble in water, depending on the chemical species.

Synonyms for mercury are colloidal mercury; kwik; liquid silver; quicksilver; metallic mercury; and hydrargyrum.


* Chemical Name: Mercury
* Regulatory Name: Mercury
* Formula: Hg
* DOT Label: Corrosive
* CAS: 7439-97-6
* STCC: 4936336
* UN Number: 2809

Health effects:

Mercury, in both inorganic and organic forms, is toxic to humans and can cause death. The organic forms of mercury such as methylmercuric chloride and phenylmercuric acetate have been found to be more toxic than inorganic forms such as mercuric chloride. More severe effects on developing nervous systems are generally observed following exposure to organic mercury.

Deaths have been reported following acute exposure to high unspecified concentrations of metallic mercury vapor caused by a loss of respiratory function as a result of severe pulmonary tissue damage. Oral ingestion of single doses of mercuric chloride has led to poisoning and death caused by shock, cardiovascular collapse, acute renal failure, and severe gastrointestinal damage. Most reported cases of poisoning from organic mercury compounds are a result of the ingestion of contaminated fish or grains.

Long-term exposure to either organic or inorganic mercury can irreversibly damage the brain, kidneys, or developing fetuses. The form of mercury and the way humans are exposed to it influence which of these health effects will be more severe.

For example, organic mercury that is eaten in contaminated fish or grain will tend to cause greater harm to the brain and developing fetuses than to the kidney; inhaled inorganic mercury vapor will tend to cause greater harm to the brain; and inorganic mercury that is eaten or drunk in contaminated food or water will tend to cause greater harm to the kidneys.

Effects to the developing fetus include brain damage. Effects in adults briefly exposed to mercury include shakiness, tremors, and memory loss.

Exposure Values:

* IDLH: 10 mg/m3 (NIOSH, 1997)
* TLV TWA: 0.025 mg/m3. Not classifiable as human carcinogen.
* (ACGIH, 1999)
* NIOSH REL: Hg Vapor: TWA 0.05 mg/m3 [skin], Other: C 0.1 mg/m3 [skin]
* OSHA PEL: C 0.1 mg/m3


U.S. manufacturers of mercury are Centerchem, Inc, New York, NY; Rascher & Betzold, Inc, Chicago, IL; SST Corporation, Clifton, NJ; Eastman Kodak Laboratory and Specialty Chemicals Eastman Kodak Co, Rochester, NY; Spectrum Chemical MFG Corp, Gardena, CA; D F Goldsmith Chemical & Metal Corp, Evanston, IL; and Belmont Metals, Inc, Brooklyn, NY.

Mercury is produced mainly by mining. Five percent of the world mercury production is a by-product of gold mining, and most of the remaining mercury is produced from underground mines. Some salvage is done on scrap materials as well.

U.S. production of mercury in 1985 was 1,254,000 pounds; world production in 1986 was 13,376,000 pounds. In 1986, almost 1,520,000 pounds of mercury were imported to the United States.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued permissible levels of mercury in bottled water. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued permissible exposure limits for mercury.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency prohibited adding mercury to paint after August 20, 1990. However, paint manufactured before that ban can still be sold.

EPA offices overseeing regulations and guidelines for mercury are Air Quality Planning and Standards, Water and Standards, Emergency and Remedial Response, Solid Waste, and Toxic Substances.

Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986, releases of more than one pound of mercury into the air, water, or land must be reported annually and entered into the National Toxic Release Inventory (TRI).

Under Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act of 1986, releases of more than one pound of mercury into the air, water, and land must be reported annually and entered into the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI).

National Overview of 1998 Toxics Release Inventory

In 1998, 340 facilities released 291,341 pounds of mercury. Of those releases, 22,007 pounds were air emissions; 134 pounds were surface water discharges; 0 pounds were released to land; and 239,072 pounds were transferred off-site for disposal. Total emissions for 1998 represented an increase from 1997 emissions, which totaled 45,125 pounds; from 1996 emissions, which totaled 28,198 pounds;an increase from 1995 emissions, which totaled 28,591 pounds; and a decrease from 1988 (baseline) emissions, which totaled 296,299 pounds.

In 1998, 776,222 pounds of mercury waste were managed; 455,629 pounds were recycled on-site; 34,068 pounds were recycled off-site; 0 pounds were used for energy recovery on-site; 0 pounds were used for energy recovery off-site; 4,315 pounds were treated on-site; 1,165 pounds were treated off-site; and 281,045 pounds were released on-and off-site.

The 10 states in which the largest amounts of mercury were released in 1998 were: NV (224,400 pounds); SC (21,019 pounds); TN (3,279 pounds); KY (2,320 pounds); OH (1,653 pounds); GA (1,326 pounds); NC (1,283 pounds); WV (1,258 pounds); LA (1,226 pounds); and IN (1,110 pounds).

The 10 facilities releasing the largest amounts of mercury in 1998 were: Getchell Gold Corp., Golconda, NV (144,000 pounds); Jerritt Canyon Joint Venture, Elko, NV (80,400 pounds); Safety-Kleen (Pinewood), Pinewood, SC (21,019 pounds); Olin Corp., Charleston, TN (3,279 pounds); Ashta Chemicals Inc., Ashtabula, OH (1,653 pounds); Olin Corp., Augusta, GA (1,326 pounds); Holtrachem Mfg. Co. Llc, Riegelwood, NC (1,283 pounds); Ppg Inds. Inc., New Martinsville, WV (1,258 pounds); Pioneer Chlor Alkali Co. Inc., Saint Gabriel, LA (1,226 pounds); and Osram Sylvania Prods. Inc., Versailles, KY (1,203 pounds).


The NIOSH recommended exposure limits (RELs) are time-weighted average (TWA) concentrations for up to a 10-hour workday during a 40-hour workweek. A short-term exposure limit (STEL) is designated by "ST" preceding the value; unless noted otherwise, the STEL is a 15-minute TWA exposure that should not be exceeded at any time during a workday. A ceiling REL is designated by "C" preceding the value. Any substance that NIOSH considers to be a potential occupational carcinogen is designated by the notation "Ca."

The OSHA permissible exposure limits (PEL) are found in Tables Z-1, Z-2, and Z-3 of the OSHA General Industry Air Contaminants Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000). Unless noted otherwise, PEL are TWA concentrations that must not be exceeded during any 8-hour workshift of a 40-hour workweek. A STEL is designated by "ST" preceding the value and is measured over a 15-minute period unless noted otherwise. OSHA ceiling concentrations (designated by "C" preceding the value) must not be exceeded during any part of the workday; if instantaneous monitoring is not feasible, the ceiling must be assessed as a 15-minute TWA exposure. In addition, there are a number of substances from Table Z-2 (e.g., beryllium, ethylene dibromide, etc.) that have PEL ceiling values that must not be exceeded except for specified excursions. For example, a "5-minute maximum peak in any 2 hours" means that a 5-minute exposure above the ceiling value, but never above the maximum peak, is allowed in any 2 hours during an 8-hour workday.

Information Sources:

* CAMEO®, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
* Chemical Manufacturers Association, 1300 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22209: (703) 741-5000 or Chemical Referral Library, (800) 262-8200.
* National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Clearinghouse on Environmental Health Effects, 100 Capitola Drive, #108, Durham, NC 27713; (800) 643-4794; fax (919) 361-9408.
* TOXNET, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health;
* U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 401 M St., SW, Washington, DC 20460; Right to Know Hotline (800) 535-0202.
* U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Health and Safety Administration, Washington, DC,
* OSHA PEL: Z-1 Table:
* OSHA PEL: Z-2 Table:

You know not to eat too much tuna, and you've probably turned in your mercury filled thermometer for one filled with alcohol of a digital type.

You probably know the devastating effects of mercury used as a preservative in vaccines, which since 1926 has been known by the AMA to cause mental impairment and brain damage.

And maybe you know that the "Mad Hatter" from 'Alice in Wonderland' was called that because of his hat - the felt hat manufactured with mercury.

So here we are in 2007 and all the folks whose words determine your choices, mostly without any investigation on your part, have gone down the Rabbit Hole after breathing too many mercury fumes.

If you are on the subscriber list to herbalYODA Says! you have received our Earth Day special issue on the CFL bulb.

Yes, its that compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) hawked every where as a way to reduce global warming. Even Oprah is giving them away!

Now Oprah took on the Texas cattlemen some years ago in a big fight. I think it is fair to take on Oprah when she pushes something that just might now be good for you. If you read this blog you know I have challenged her on a few other issues. I probably will challenge her and others again, for the pure purpose of getting you to put your thinking hat on.

Yes, I was at the very first Earth Day and it seems really a long time ago. I don't see that much has has changed.

It must be a microcosmic effort because I do know individuals to whom the environment is very much worth protecting. As we always said on the Rez, "Love Your Earth Mother".

I guess we need to look at this in a different way now as the fabrication of events through advertising and marketing causes many of us to fall for the Madison Avenue hype, what is popular for the moment.

Here is another example, following on the war cry of recent flooding of the Internet with messages about writing to stop vegetable juice from becoming a 'drug'.

Look at almost every event, Yahoo and other web special sites, global warming web sites, news ads, rock concerts, ad infinitum. What are these all pushing this weekend? CFL.

So they want us to light the Earth Mother with something they tell us will save energy.

Maybe so, and I thought so too over a decade ago when I bought one these bulbs to go in a lamp I had on a timer so my house would not be dark when I arrived home fore the evening.

At the end of last year I had a nice e-chat with the fellow who runs the local recycling center.

Hey Andy, I wrote, what about the mercury in these light bulbs and what'll it do to the landfill?

Andy already knew about the mercury in the 'compact fluorescent bulb' so we went on to address the radio frequency generated by the bulbs and what this might do to your health in a house full of these swirling glass tubes. Yes, I did say radio frequency, or RF or EMF as more people might call it.

I don't get grants from Philips who is funding the bulb give away on college campuses this weekend. Maybe Philips might like to send some funds the way of Creating Health Institute to help sponsor our environmental work. Like this special edition of out newsletter. And maybe Sheryl Crow might send us a few dollars or so from increased album sales after giving away the free light bulbs at these concerts.

Then there is also out there telling us that since 1 January 2007 more than 30 million of these bulbs have been sold. is hawking the bulbs too, as I am sure are many other power companies and organizations.

Now, about two months after I posted this information on my blog, I see World Net Daily is reporting on health hazards of CFL.

Hopefully this turns on your old bulb before jumping on the wagon...

More to follow on 'falling for fabrication'.

As always you will find more information about the topics covered in this and other issues of our newsletter on our web site at ( ), and on our blog at

herbalYODA Says! is written by Gayle Eversole, DHom, PhD, MH, NP, ND.
Creating Health Institute, celebrating 50 years in natural healing, blending science with the natural healing arts. We bring it to you as a public service, and part of our long established Health Matters© educational publications.

CHI is a tax-exempt, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. We ask that you consider helping us continue our work through your tax-deductible donation, through our shopping villages, products and services.

CHI Copyright © 2007. All Rights Reserved.

The CFL contains mercury! If it breaks inside your home it releases mercury. It harms the environment because it is toxic waste and ends up somewhere in a landfill.

It can make you sick in other ways because it is a radio frequency emitter. RF is something you do not see, but it can affect your health.

There are other options. In the early days of the environmental movement we turned off the light when we did not need it. Now you can buy halogen or full spectrum light bulbs or very long life bulbs, so you do have a choice.

Just leave the mercury alone.

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