If you want to furrow a few eyebrows, tell your friends about the two-headed baby trout born of wild fish caught in a polluted Idaho stream (above). If you want to get them really riled up, explain that a major mining company linked this disturbing mutation to selenium pollution from one of its own mines — and still had the audacity to assert that those selenium levels are safe.
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The questionable integrity of this company’s scientific research, which Leslie Kaufman detailed last week in The New York Times, has fueled a much broader debate over what levels of selenium pollution should be allowed in U.S. watersheds. Federal agencies, environmental groups and one of the nation’s largest private companies are at odds, and Kaufman’s portrayal of the details is both intriguing and disturbing.
“In my research, I have seen lots of malformed baby fish, but never one with two heads,” David Janz, an aquatic toxicology professor at the University of Saskatchewan, told Kaufman. “Selenium is emerging as a pollutant of global concern,” he said. “We need to be careful here.”
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