Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mercury At Bottom Of Central Park Lake Linked To Coal Burning In NYC

Date:
August 15, 2001
Source:
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Summary:
While the debate rages over the future of the nation’s energy resources, including the potential increase in the number of coal-burning power plants, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have linked coal plant emissions to toxic levels of mercury.

TROY, N.Y. – While the debate rages over the future of the nation’s energy resources, including the potential increase in the number of coal-burning power plants, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have linked coal plant emissions to toxic levels of mercury.

Their study shows that the level of mercury in sediment at the bottom of New York’s Central Park Lake is at least 10 times the amount found in some industrial areas.

“The atmospheric input of mercury to the sediments is the highest I have ever seen. We know mercury is toxic, and we know it accumulates over time. The question is, is this acceptable?” said Richard Bopp, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at Rensselaer and a leading authority on PCBs and other pollutants in the Hudson River, New York Harbor, and elsewhere.

Bopp’s findings are especially significant in light of this year’s power shortages in California and the ensuing controversy over coal-burning power plants. A recent report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency predicted that the emission of hazardous air pollutants by coal-fired utilities would increase 10 percent to 30 percent by the year 2010.

Bopp’s team studied core samples of lake sediment dating back to the 1860s. After consulting historical records of coal consumption in the city, Bopp concluded that domestic coal-fired stoves and furnaces, industrial fuel use, and coal-burning power plants left much of the toxic residue.

Bopp’s study showed the highest atmospheric inputs of mercury in levels of sediment dating from the early 1900s, when coal use peaked in the New York City area.

Last December, the EPA reported the emission of mercury as the greatest health concern posed by coal burning. Coal-fired plants in the United States emit an estimated 52 tons of mercury into the atmosphere per year.

The EPA believes a plausible link exists between the emission of mercury from coal-fired utilities and the amount of mercury found in the air, soil, and water. The ingestion of fish contaminated with mercury is thought to play an important rule in exposing humans to this toxic metal known to damage the kidneys, nervous system, and brain.

“The potential for increased mercury in the environment depends, to a large extent, on emission controls. The level of emission control that is appropriate for coal-burning power plants is a significant question that will have to be addressed,” Bopp said.

An earlier study of the same samples, published by Bopp and colleagues in Environmental Science and Technology in 1999, concluded that most of the lead found in the Central Park Lake sediments came not from the use of leaded gasoline, as many scientists believed, but from the incineration of municipal solid waste.

The Central Park Lake study was funded through a Superfund Basic Research Grant to Mount Sinai Medical Center. The Rensselaer team worked with researchers from Columbia University and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. "Mercury At Bottom Of Central Park Lake Linked To Coal Burning In NYC." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 August 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010815080358.htm>.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. (2001, August 15). Mercury At Bottom Of Central Park Lake Linked To Coal Burning In NYC. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010815080358.htm
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. "Mercury At Bottom Of Central Park Lake Linked To Coal Burning In NYC." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010815080358.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

AFP (July 22, 2014) As part of the 14-ship convoy that will accompany the Costa Concordia from the port of Giglio to the port of Genoa, there will be a boat carrying experts to look out for dolphins and whales from crossing the path of the Concordia. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

AP (July 21, 2014) New Orleans is the first U.S. city to participate in a large-scale recycling effort for cigarette butts. The city is rolling out dozens of containers for smokers to use when they discard their butts. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

AFP (July 19, 2014) A spectaCular lightning storm struck the UK overnight Friday. Images of lightning strikes over the Shard and Tower Bridge in central London. Duration: 00:23 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins