(Mercury Poisoning levels of fish vary based on the source of sampling, especially for freshwater fish in local rivers and streams)
USA TODAY Mercury in many lakes, rivers
"One third of the nation's lake waters and one-quarter of its riverways are contaminated with mercury and other pollutants that could cause health problems for children and pregnant women who eat too much fish..."
THE TRUTH... about mercury poisoning...
How does mercury occur in the environment? Mercury is a naturally occurring element that can be found throughout the environment. Human activities such as burning coal and using mercury to manufacture certain products, have increased the amount of mercury that is currently cycling in the atmosphere, in soils, and in lakes, streams and the oceans.
What are the biggest sources of mercury air emissions? According to EPA's 1999 National Emissions Inventory, coal-fired electric power plants are the largest source of human-caused mercury air emissions in the
U.S. These power plants account for about 40% of total U.S. manmade mercury emissions. Other large sources are industrial boilers (about 10% of U.S. mercury emissions), burning hazardous waste (about 5%), and chlorine production (also about 5%). Burning municipal waste and medical waste was once a large source of emissions but today, in response to EPA and State regulations and reductions in mercury use, these sources are much less important.Municipal waste combustors (MWCs) and medical waste incinerators (MWIs) were major sources of mercury air emissions in 1990, but implementation of EPAâ€™s maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards has reduced emissions from each of these source categories to less than 5 percent ofU.S. mercury emissions.
How do people and wildlife become exposed to mercury?
Mercury that is emitted to the air falls to the ground either very close to the source or many miles away. When mercury is deposited into the water, or runs off the ground into the water, microorganisms convert some portion to methylmercury, a highly toxic form of mercury.Small organisms take this up as they feed. As animals higher up the food chain eat those small organisms, they also take in methylmercury. The process, known as bioaccumulation, continues with levels of mercury increasing as it moves up the food chain. Fish that are higher in the food chain, such as sharks and swordfish, have much higher mercury concentration than fish that are lower on the food chain. Humans become exposed when they eat fish that are contaminated with mercury.
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