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Wednesday, August 25 2004

Mercury in Fish Almost Everywhere

48 of the 50 states in the union now have a mercury problem in their fish, with the greatest single source being emissions from coal-fired power plants.

While this problem’s been brewing for a long time, it’s just now starting to get the serious national attention it deserves. Take a look at this search on Google News for ‘mercury’ and ‘fish.’

The E.P.A. is putting a brave face on the matter, insisting that mercury levels aren’t rising, it’s just that we have better monitoring. While the technology exists today to reduce mercury emissions by 90%, the current administration proposal is to reduce mercury output by 26% over 6 years.

The problem here is that mercury “bioaccumulates” which means that it increases in concentration as it moves up the food chain. In essence, it perists in the environment for years. Even if emissions are coming down, the mercury emitted this year will be around for a long time.

In Kansas, KWF is watch-dogging a proposal to build a complex of coal-fired powerplants along the Misourri River. Our sister organization, the National Wildlife Federation, is working in Congress to keep the current law in place, which would reduce mercury emmissions sharply.

For more on what mercury does and why it’s a problem, check out this handy reference site.

+ Dan @ 05:07pm

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