Mercury runs through it

Rivers frame our lives in Sacramento, yet we barely skim the surface.

We usually see the sparkling waters briefly as we pass by, or occasionally glide over the surface as part of recreation. We rarely think about what lies below. Humans have a tendency to not think about the natural world, especially if we can’t see it.

But underneath the water a chain of events is taking place that could very well adversely affect whole populations of people who live near the rivers and depend on them for sustenance. We are talking about the people who fish and eat their catch. What many of them don’t know is that below the surface dangerous chemicals have seeped into the food chain and the last link could be poisoning them.

Forty years after Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking Silent Spring, scientists are still concerned about being victimized by chemicals in a food chain. Rather than the birds and DDT, in our area now it’s fish and mercury and DDT. Mercury has survived in our environment for decades, a bitter residue of the rape of the earth by gold miners. And unlike pesticides, it’s too late to place a ban on mercury.

But what could be done now is a campaign to educate fishermen about the ill effects of certain fish consumption. Let them know what is lurking in the flesh pulled from the rivers that surround us.