Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hotspots Of Mercury Contamination: Harmful Levels Of Neurotoxin Detected In Fish And Birds

Date:
January 3, 2007
Source:
American Institute of Biological Sciences
Summary:
A U.S. and Canadian research team surveying mercury contamination in fish and birds in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada has identified five "hotspots" where concentrations of the element exceed those established for human or wildlife health. The team focused on levels of the potent neurotoxin in yellow perch and common loons, but it also took into account contamination in other fish, birds, and mammals.

A U.S. and Canadian research team surveying mercury contamination in fish and birds in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada has identified five "hotspots" where concentrations of the element exceed those established for human or wildlife health. The team focused on levels of the potent neurotoxin in yellow perch and common loons, but it also took into account contamination in other fish, birds, and mammals. In addition to these hotspots in New England, New York, and Nova Scotia, the researchers found nine "areas of concern" in these regions and in Quebec and New Brunswick. Findings from the team's analysis are summarized in the January 2007 issue of BioScience.

The hotspots are believed to result from complex processes that move atmospherically released mercury through the environment, and from site-specific characteristics such as the high sensitivity of wetlands and forested areas to mercury inputs. Local sources of mercury are also significant. Although mercury is not directly harmful at ambient levels, it is concentrated up to a millionfold and chemically modified in aquatic food chains, resulting in dangerous levels of methylmercury in some wildlife species. Fish consumption advisories responding to mercury contamination exist in all the states and provinces included in the study, and loons are adversely affected by mercury levels they experience.

The hotspots have implications for "cap and trade" approaches being implemented for regulation of emissions from coal-fired electric power stations, which, along with municipal waste incinerators, are major sources of mercury pollution. Cap and trade approaches seek to reduce the total release of mercury but could lead to static or increased emissions in some areas. Greater deposition of mercury near areas that are highly sensitive to the element or that are already affected by it could raise the risk to people and wildlife that consume fish. There is reason to believe, however, that lowering emissions can reduce risk: an analysis of levels of mercury contamination over time in the Merrimack River watershed suggests that lowered emissions reduced mercury levels in biota within a few years.

The 10-member research team was led by David C. Evers of the BioDiversity Research Institute in Gorham, Maine. The study was based on samples collected over four years by the Northeastern Ecosystem Research Cooperative and made use of 7311 observations for seven species. The study report in BioScience is accompanied by an overview article, written by Charles T. Driscoll of Syracuse University and colleagues, that summarizes current knowledge about mercury contamination in the region; the authors conclude that reductions in mercury emissions beyond those currently under way will be needed to eliminate the element as a health risk to humans or to populations of loons.

BioScience publishes commentary and peer-reviewed articles covering a wide range of biological fields, with a focus on "Organisms from Molecules to the Environment." The journal has been published since 1964. AIBS is an umbrella organization for professional scientific societies and organizations that are involved with biology. It represents some 200 member societies and organizations with a combined membership of about 250,000.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Biological Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Institute of Biological Sciences. "Hotspots Of Mercury Contamination: Harmful Levels Of Neurotoxin Detected In Fish And Birds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 January 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070103110132.htm>.
American Institute of Biological Sciences. (2007, January 3). Hotspots Of Mercury Contamination: Harmful Levels Of Neurotoxin Detected In Fish And Birds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070103110132.htm
American Institute of Biological Sciences. "Hotspots Of Mercury Contamination: Harmful Levels Of Neurotoxin Detected In Fish And Birds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070103110132.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

AFP (July 29, 2014) Coal mining is one of the major industries in Baluchistan but a lack of infrastructure and frequent accidents mean that the area has yet to hit its potential. Duration: 01:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
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