Mercury levels found in Great Lakes critters is on the rise.
Nobody knows why.
That's pretty much it in a nutshell.
After dropping for decades, mercury levels in Great Lakes fish and wildlife are edging back up again.
Mercury emitted from American smokestacks has been declining for years. But contamination levels in loons, walleyes and some other species has actually increased in the last decade, according to the largest report yet on mercury in the Great Lakes region.
The report, released Tuesday by the Great Lakes Commission, was based on 35 research studies and samples from tens of thousands of fish, birds and other animals. It concludes that the forests, lakes and wetlands that characterize the Great Lakes make the region particularly sensitive to mercury pollution.
Even more importantly, the authors conclude, the nature and extent of the region's mercury problem is more severe than was previously known - and, for reasons that are not understood, appears to be getting worse for some species.
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/10/11/2449583/mercury-contamination-levels-in.html#ixzz1bTU9lml7
It's even reached toxic levels in some instances:
The report found that mercury levels are higher in fish in inland lakes than those in the big lakes. That was true of walleye from northern Minnesota, and other heavily forested areas with wetlands.
Six of the 15 most commonly eaten fish had mercury levels higher than the EPA recommends for human consumption. And many species, including loons, showed sensitivities to mercury at much lower concentrations than had been known.
Meanwhile, our new barking mad congress feels mercury levels are just fine or not nearly high enough...as they're looking to scale back the ability of the EPA to regulate things like mercury. They're looking to curtail attempts to reduce mercury emissions from coal fired power plants.
As I mentioned before, scientists aren't quite sure where the increased mercury levels are coming from. Most of the mercury in the Great Lakes to date has come from power plants. For the lifetime of each incandescent (normal, old timey) light bulb, a coal fired power plant releases about 13 milligrams of mercury INTO THE AIR. That's 5 milligrams more than is released when powering a compact fluorescent bulb, EVEN IF YOU ADD IN THE MERCURY in the compact fluorescent bulb.
Coal fired power plants are dumping 48 tons of mercury INTO OUR AIR every year and it ends up in our water. Cuz, you know....it's heavy.
We're not quite sure why our Great Lakes and inland water critters are seeing higher concentrations of mercury. It's entirely possible that zebra and quagga mussels have something to do with it....
NOTE: This is pure speculation on my part...but hear me out...
...the scientific community has found that zebra and quagga mussels, because they're FILTERING MACHINES, will filter toxins from the water from the ENTIRE lake and then poop it out where the mussels are, along the shoreline. So while the lake in total may have fewer toxins, they end up being concentrated toward the shoreline.
Same thing may be happening with mercury. But like I said, that's PURE SPECULATION on my part.
I do know one thing for absolute certain....Weakening power plant emissions, or failing to make a higher standard, is NOT going to improve our mercury situation. And frankly, I don't want my kids taking in any more mercury than is absolutely necessary.