Press Release

Greenpeace, Sierra Club Bury Nearly Half Of Scientific Report, Mislead Americans About Mercury

Washington, DC — A report released yesterday, which Greenpeace claims documents “dangerous” levels of mercury in “one in five” American women, shows the exact opposite, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom said today. And the Center revealed this morning that Greenpeace and the Sierra Club have irresponsibly released only about half of the report (just seven pages out of 12) to the public on their websites, omitting crucial pages which raise questions about the report’s value. The Sierra Club refers to the shortened seven-page version as “the entire report” on its website, and Greenpeace’s website calls it “the full report.”

The 12-page report, prepared in October by the University of North Carolina-Asheville’s Environmental Quality Institute, indicates that average mercury levels among women are far below the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended “Reference Dose” (an advisory level which has a built-in safety factor of 1,000 percent). Yesterday, Greenpeace and the Sierra Club ignored this ten-fold margin of safety when they announced that some hair samples showed “dangerous” mercury levels that were “higher than [the] EPA limit.”

“Selectively publishing only the parts of a study that you agree with is unethical and misleading, said Center for Consumer Freedom Director of Research David Martosko. “Greenpeace and the Sierra Club should be ashamed of themselves.”

Martosko added: “Hyping the significance of the government’s mercury advisory level is likely to scare women away from eating fish, which is one of nature’s healthiest foods. Americans need to understand that unless they exceed the EPA’s recommended limits ten times over, they’re not likely to be in any danger.”

A more statistically sound ongoing study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that just 5.6 percent of women of child-bearing age (far from Greenpeace’s “one in five”) exceed the EPA’s mercury Reference Dose. Factoring in the EPA’s ten-fold safety margin, the CDC found no women whose mercury levels approached a real level of concern.

A cover letter attached to the Environmental Quality Institute report, published by the Sierra Club but not by Greenpeace, also indicates that the process of collecting hair samples to test for mercury is more limited than the blood-testing methods preferred by many scientists. “[H]air mercury levels cannot be used to determine if a person has chronic mercury poisoning,” the Environmental Quality Institute cautions.

The complete 12-page report from the University of North Carolina-Asheville’s Environmental Quality Institute can be downloaded at

For comparison, the edited, 7-page version distributed yesterday by Greenpeace and the Sierra Club can be downloaded at

Learn more about mercury hype and try the Internet’s only realistic mercury-fish calculator at

Founded in 1996, the Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization devoted to promoting personal responsibility and protecting consumer choices. For more information, visit


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