The Department of Environmental Quality has not tested Louisiana waterways for mercury levels in over 8  years. You'd probably think that's because our waterways had been deemed safe 8 years ago. You would be wrong the think that. The reason the DEQ has not been testing our waterways is simple, budget cuts.

I bet you're feeling pretty good about our state government right about now aren't you? Well this was under the Bobby Jindal administration so there really isn't much of a surprise the health and welfare of the citizens of Louisiana were compromised because of money.

The DEQ announced that 36 sites across the state will be tested for mercury contamination The testing has already started in the Lafayette and Lake Charles area. The reason for beginning in Southwest Louisiana is the DEQ centers are already set up for testing.

The program to test the other sites will get underway with the beginning of next year. Currently the state has 48 consumption advisories in effect for 85 bodies of water. The consumption advisory means that fish or other wildlife from that body of water might have higher than acceptable levels of mercury.

What's the big deal about mercury? It's a neurotoxin that primarily affects pregnant women and small children. There is evidence of neurological damage in children that have been exposed or consumed high levels of mercury. The metal is also know to cause birth defects in babies born to women who were pregnant and consumed food with high levels of mercury.