Friday, August 21, 2009

Mercury Warning in Fish, Again!!

A sample of 291 freshwater streams by the US Government has revealed unexpectedly higher levels of contamination by the neurotoxin mercury. The study conducted by the US Geological Survey and based on EPA standards showed:
  • Over 1/4 fish had mercury concentration higher than EPA set levels.
  • Over 2/3 fish had levels that caused concern.
Atmospheric mercury from coal-fired plants and other industrial emissions is cited as the main source of the chemical which has contaminated water sources via precipitation. This study is significant as it is the first time it has included a comprehensive survey of mercury contamination in the water, sediments and fish of rivers and creeks throughout the United States. Previous studies focused largely on lakes, reservoirs and wetlands.

Highest levels of mercury were found in the coastal streams of North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Louisiana, areas that are considered relatively undeveloped and characterised by heavy pine forests and wooded wetlands. Significantly high concentrations were also seen in streams in the Western USA in areas traditionally associated with mining.
Mercury is a highly dangerous toxin that concentrates when it moves up the food chain. Eating fish and shellfish constitute the primary source of mercury poisoning in human beings.

It is expected that the EPA will issue new regulations under the Clean Air Act to control air emissions of mercury from coal-fired power plants late this year.

Also Read: Mercury in Fish

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