Thursday, October 6, 2011

Great Lakes Still Has A Significant Mercury Pollution Problem

Oct 6: The Biodiversity Research Institute has announced it will release a report entitled, Great Lakes Mercury Connections: The Extent and Effects of Mercury Pollution in the Great Lakes Region, a synthesis of new research by 170+ scientists based on 35 peer-reviewed papers published this month in the journal Ecotoxicology and soon to be published in Environmental Pollution. According to an announcement, despite decades of progress, the Great Lakes region still has a significant mercury pollution problem.
   The report is a collaboration of the Biodiversity Research Institute in Gorham, Maine, the Great Lakes Commission based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The report is the product of a binational, scientific synthesis sponsored by the Great Lakes Commission through its Great Lakes Air Deposition Program, funded by the U.S. EPA.
    On October 11, during Great Lakes Week in Detroit, and in a webinar, scientists will present new policy-relevant research, as the deadline nears for U.S. EPA Utility Air Toxics Rule, including: new information on the severity of the mercury problem in the Great Lakes region; new research on the wildlife effects of mercury; and new analysis of progress made by pollution control efforts to date and the contribution of emissions sources in the Great Lakes region. Speakers will include: Tim Eder – Executive Director, Great Lakes Commission; James Wiener, Ph.D. – Wisconsin Distinguished Professor, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse; David C. Evers, Ph.D. – Executive Director, Biodiversity Research Institute; and Charles T. Driscoll, Ph.D. – University Professor and National Academy Member, Syracuse University.
    According to an abstract of a paper in Ecotoxicology, "This special issue examines bioaccumulation and risks of methylmercury in food webs, fish and wildlife in the Laurentian Great Lakes region of North America, and explores mercury policy in the region and elsewhere in the United States and Canada. A total of 35 papers emanated from a bi-national synthesis of multi-media data from monitoring programs and research investigations on mercury in aquatic and terrestrial biota, a 3-year effort
involving more than 170 scientists and decision-makers from 55 different universities, non-governmental organizations, and governmental agencies. Over 290,000 fish mercury data points were compiled from monitoring programs and research investigations. The findings from this scientific synthesis indicate that (1) mercury remains a pollutant of major concern in the Great Lakes region, (2) that the scope and intensity of the problem is greater than previously recognized and (3) that after decades of declining mercury levels in fish and wildlife concentrations are now increasing in some species and areas. While the reasons behind these shifting trends require further study, they also underscore the need to identify information gaps and expand monitoring efforts to better track progress. This will be particularly important as new pollution prevention measures are implemented, as global sources increase, and as the region faces changing environmental conditions."
    Access the announcement from Biodiversity Research Institute with further details and contacts (click here). Access the Special Issue of Ecotoxicology on Mercury in the Great Lakes to access various papers (click here).