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Exclusive: Heavy metals go untested in Gulf seafood

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(Read Part I: Gulf seafood poses long-term health risks.)

Experts urge caution for pregnant women and young childrenRaw Story examined the “Mussel Watch” page on NOAA’s website and found no clear additional protocol in place for protecting the public from these contaminants in their seafood due to the BP oil spill.

This is particularly troubling to scientists and public health experts.

Gina Solomon, a doctor and public health expert in the department of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, told Raw Story, “What we would expect is the heavy metal levels in Gulf seafood will be starting to creep up as a result of the spill.”

Solomon, a co-author on last month’s peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) study on Gulf seafood safety and also a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), cautioned, “And so right now, we might not be seeing elevated levels, but right now is the time to collect baseline information and to develop a sampling plan for monitoring into the future to make sure that levels don’t continue to rise and cause trouble months or years from now.”

She said it’s important to remember that fish and shellfish in the Gulf of Mexico already contained certain levels of heavy metals prior to the BP oil spill, which, at its height, gushed oil at an estimated rate equivalent to the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster – previously the largest in US history – every four days.

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Solomon also noted that there is a precedent for these contaminants to linger for a decade or so in the food chain, as was the case during the aftermath to Exxon Valdez. Her JAMA report cites a 2002 study in the peer-reviewed journal Marine Environmental Research, which showed elevated levels of contaminants ten years after the spill.

Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, a staff scientist at the NRDC who contributed to the JAMA study, noted that testing for heavy metals in these areas is also critical in the near-term in case elevated levels make it necessary to revise warnings now, particularly for pregnant women and young children, who are the most vulnerable to the impact of contaminants like mercury, lead and cadmium.

If the levels change, she said, then a woman can reduce the amount of seafood she’s eating or eliminate it entirely and reduce her likelihood of any adverse impact.

“We know that heavy metals are linked to the development of cancer over the course of time,” said Edward Trapido, the Wendell Gauthier Chair of Cancer Epidemiology at the Louisiana State University School of Public Health. “So if there is no testing, then that’s a problem for sure.”

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Trapido testified in June at a House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment hearing on the spill and is heading a research group at LSU that will look at a range of health effects, including psychiatric and behavioral effects, chronic diseases and cancers.

He pointed out that heavy metals also have associations with Alzheimer’s disease and birth defects.

David Plunkett, senior staff attorney with the food safety program of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, confirmed another reason why baseline tests for heavy metals are critical: holding BP accountable if levels are shown to increase substantially over time.

“That’s probably your best example of what it means if we don’t have these baseline tests,” said Plunkett. “We don’t have something to hold them responsible for the problems they caused.”

Brad Jacobson is a contributing investigative reporter for Raw Story.

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Group turned away for trying to deliver baby wipes to children at detention center

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An Associated Press report was issued on last week citing inhumane conditions at the U.S. southern border so, naturally, some Americans wanted to help.

According to The Texas Tribune, Austin Savage and five of his friends jumped into an SUV headed toward the border. Their vehicle was stocked with supplies, including over $340 worth of baby wipes, diapers, soap, toys, toothpaste, and other personal hygiene items.

When they arrived at the Clint Border Patrol facility, the group discovered the lobby was closed. Savage recalled that there were eight or 10 Border Patrol agents in the parking lot nearby, but none of them came by to assist the do-gooders.

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Trump flips out and threatens ‘obliteration’ after Iran calls him retarded

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday angrily hit back at Iran after the nation accused him of being "retarded."

Writing on Twitter, the president accused Iran of making a "very ignorant and insulting statement" against him, which he said "only shows that they do not understand reality."

The president then threatened the nation with "obliteration" if it didn't wise up.

"Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force," he wrote. "In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration. No more John Kerry & Obama!"

....Iran’s very ignorant and insulting statement, put out today, only shows that they do not understand reality. Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration. No more John Kerry & Obama!

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Condo owner sends recording of monkey noises to prospective renter — and repeatedly calls her the N-word

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Giulia Ozyesilpinar, the owner and operator of the Ocean Five Condo Hotel in Miami Beach, went on a racist tirade this week against a prospective renter because she didn't promptly respond to her WhatsApp messages.

The Miami New Times reports that London resident Monifah Brown had booked a condo at Ocean Five with some friends who were planning to go with her to a summer vacation in Miami.

However, after booking the condo, Ozyesilpinar sent her messages saying that she was having problems processing her credit cards. After Brown didn't initially respond to those messages, Ozyesilpinar sent her a racist message telling her that she was hurting the reputations of other black people.

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