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EPA Needs to '86' Mercury Forever!

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Here at Ina's, we take our ingredients very seriously. We don't mind paying a little extra for National Pasteurized Eggs or driving across town to get the best barbeque brisket from Smoque.

The health of our customers is our foremost priority. My customers trust me to provide food that is safe, nurturing and delicious, and I will never let them down.

If only Congress worked the same way.

You've heard of mercury, right? That's the stuff that turns into toxic methylmercury once it hits the world's oceans, lakes and streams. Small fish ingest it, then bigger fish eat the smaller fish. Eventually, that mercury makes it to your dinner table, and that's where the problem starts.

According to the EPA:

Americans are exposed to methylmercury primarily by eating contaminated fish. Because the developing fetus is the most sensitive to the toxic effects of methylmercury, women of childbearing age are regarded as the population of greatest concern. Children who are exposed to methylmercury before birth may be at increased risk of poor performance on neurobehavioral tasks, such as those measuring attention, fine motor function, language skills, visual-spatial abilities and verbal memory.

Last December, the U.S. EPA passed a rule that would reduce the amount of mercury that is spewed into the air by coal-burning power plants. And almost immediately, one lone senator put a halt to that rule.

An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that Congress should not interfere with the EPA's authority to protect Americans from toxic air pollution. In fact, "three out of four voters support the EPA setting tougher standards on specific air pollutants, including mercury, smog and carbon dioxide."

If you're one of those people who believes mercury belongs in a thermometer and not on your dinner plate, I urge you to contact our senators and tell them to vote No on S.J. Res. 37. Thanks to the American Lung Association, it's as easy as clicking on this hyperlink.

When I campaigned to be Illinois' short order senator in 2010, I vowed to fight for safer food. Now that Senator Kirk has the seat, I hope both he and Senator Durbin will take on that challenge by supporting the EPA's efforts to clean the air and water for everyone to enjoy.

Chefs and politicians may have little in common, but we do share an obligation to keep people healthy. In my business, when we say we had to '86' a menu item, it means it's no longer available. Congress needs to '86' mercury pollution forever and it all begins with this rule.