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This Week: Mercury
This Week
January 21, 2005

This week on NOW:

In America one-in-six children born every year have been exposed to mercury levels so high that they are potentially at risk for learning disabilities and motor skill impairment and short-term memory loss. That type of mercury exposure is caused by eating certain kinds of fish, which contain high levels of the toxin from both natural and man-made sources such as emissions from coal-fired power plants. One government analysis shows that 630,000 children each year are exposed to potentially unsafe mercury levels in the womb. If the government and its scientists know about the mercury problem, why do so many people continue to be poisoned? David Brancaccio reports on the dangers of mercury in our food and examines how the government is falling short in protecting consumers.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has earned a reputation as a leading thinker on environmental issues. On a boat cruising in one of the nation’s most polluted waterways, David Brancaccio finds out why, for Kennedy, saving the environment has become an almost spiritual quest to preserve nature’s legacy. “Wilderness enriches us,” he says. “It connects us…ultimately to our creator.” Kennedy is a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and serves as Chief Prosecuting Attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper and President of Waterkeeper Alliance. He was named one of TIME magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet” for his success helping Riverkeeper lead the fight to restore the Hudson River. He has worked on environmental issues across the Americas, and he is credited with leading the fight to protect New York City's water supply. His books include THE NEW YORK TIMES bestseller CRIMES AGAINST NATURE (2004).

In Depth


Mercury in Fish

Mercury Emissions Standards

Mercury Symbol
Environmental Checklist for Future Parents

All About Mercury

Environmental Resource Map

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Hudson River History

America's Most Endangered Rivers


Talk about the environment on the message boards.


Learn more about the issues discussed on NOW.

Read the complete transcript.

Streaming Video

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Heavy Metal (15:28)

David Brancaccio talks with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (5:33)


Heavy Metal
Producer: Brenda Breslauer
Editor: Andrew Fredericks

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