Green Buckeye RN Ohio River Commission Considering Allowing More Mercury in Water
July 21, 2010, 10:21 am
Filed under: News, Spotlight on... Mercury

By James Bruggers • • July 20, 2010

A proposal by the eight-state Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission could allow more mercury or similar pollutants in industrial effluent if a company asks for a variance and both the commission and water regulators in its state agree.

Peter Tennant, deputy director of the commission, also said no variances would be issued without also seeking public input.

Utilities have been taking more and more mercury out of their air emissions. The process of “scrubbing” the flue gasses passes the mercury to an effluent that gets into the river.

Tennant said some in the utility industry have said that complying with current water quality standards is not always possible.

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Post-Gazette.Com: Mercury Fishing Rising
July 6, 2010, 10:59 am
Filed under: News, Spotlight on... Mercury

Sunday, July 04, 2010
By Deborah Weisberg
Anglers have another reason to bristle over the Lake Erie invasion of zebra mussels and round gobies.

The Eurasian natives have caused mercury concentrations in Erie walleyes to rise 50 percent since they invaded the lake 20 years ago, while levels in other Great Lakes walleyes have declined or remained stable. That’s according to a study by the Canadian Ministry of the Environment, which sampled more than 5,800 walleyes and lake trout between the mid-1970s and 2007.

“During the 1980s, Lake Erie walleyes had the lowest mercury levels, compared to the other Canadian Great Lakes,” said researcher Sityana Bhavsar, who led the 30-year study recently published in the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science & Technology journal. “Although Erie levels are now similar to, or lower than, the other lakes, what’s disturbing is the increasing concentration trend.”

According to the study, the average Erie walleye sampled in the past decade contained about 0.18 parts per million of mercury, an increase of 0.03 ppm over the previous decade. That’s well within the limits of Pennsylvania’s general advisory to consume no more than one-half pound of fish per week when mercury concentration is between 0.13 and 0.25 ppm. However, because of PCBs, another industrial pollutant, Pennsylvania recommends limiting most Erie fish, including walleyes, to one meal per month.

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NYT: Toxic Mercury Is More At Home in Seawater, Study Finds
June 30, 2010, 9:23 am
Filed under: News, Spotlight on... Mercury


It has long been known that mercury levels in seafood can prove poisonous to humans. Methylmercury, an especially toxic form of mercury, can lead to kidney dysfunction and neurological disorders.

Pregnant women in particular are told to be careful because dietary exposure to methylmercury can lead to birth defects in infants.

Now a new study suggests that humans need to be more wary of saltwater fish like tuna, mackerel and sharks than of freshwater fish. Although seawater has lower concentrations of mercury than freshwater, mercury in seawater is more likely to stay in its toxic form, researchers report in a recent issue of Nature Geoscience.

In freshwater, methylmercury tends to latch onto decaying organic matter like dead plants and animals. It then breaks down with the help of sunlight. In saltwater,  methylmercury latches onto chloride, which does not easily break down. The mercury is then likely to be ingested by marine mammals.

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C&EN: Methylmercury Cuts Could Save The U.S. Millions of Dollars
June 25, 2010, 8:39 am
Filed under: News, Spotlight on... Mercury

Environmental Pollutants: Reducing methylmercury intake nationwide could save money by preventing heart disease and IQ drops
Naomi Lubick

Researchers have studied methylmercury’s neurotoxic effects for decades, but recently scientists have connected this form of mercury—found in fish that people eat—to heart disease. A new computer model that considers these cardiovascular effects finds that cutting mercury pollution by 10% could save the United States millions of dollars in health costs—a benefit that regulators should consider, the authors say (Environ. Sci. Technol. DOI: 10.1021/es903359u).

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EHN: Mercury Promotes Blood Clots, Which Increases Heart Disease Risk
June 25, 2010, 8:31 am
Filed under: News, Spotlight on... Mercury

 Jun 22, 2010

Lim K-M, S Kim, J-Y Noh, K Kim, W-H Jang, O-N Bae, S-M Chung and J-H Chung. 2010. Low-level of mercury enhances procoagulant activity of erythrocytes: A new contributing factor for mercury-related thrombotic disease. Environmental Health Perspectives
Synopsis by Jennifer F. Nyland

A research team describes the likely way mercury affects red blood cells and increases the risk of heart disease.

Researchers have determined that exposure to low levels of mercury can encourage clotting of red blood cells, a dangerous condition called thrombosis that contributes to cardiovascular disease.

In short, the research shows that red blood cells, when dying after exposure to mercury, release proteins that encourage blood cells and platelets to clot and clump together – or coagulate – inside vessels. The increased clots can worsen existing cardiovascular disease and raise its risk in others.

Mercury is a global environmental contaminant with almost universal human exposure. The metal is linked to an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Its association with one of the top human diseases has vast public health implications.

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Chicago Tribune: FDA To Investigate Skin Creams For Mercury
May 26, 2010, 9:26 am
Filed under: News, Spotlight on... Mercury

Agency responds to Tribune tests that found high levels of toxic metal
May 21, 2010

The Food and Drug Administration said Friday it will investigate skin-lightening creams for dangerous amounts of mercury.

Responding to a Tribune investigation that found high levels of the toxic metal in some creams, the FDA said it has alerted its district offices about potentially hazardous products and will take enforcement action if necessary.

“We didn’t know there was that kind of a risk, and we believe now there is a level of risk,” FDA spokesman Ira Allen said. “We are going to follow up.”

Allen said he could not provide specifics of the agency’s investigation but that it might include testing samples and inspecting facilities.

The Tribune reported Wednesday that the newspaper had sent 50 creams used to lighten skin and fade age spots to a certified lab for testing, most of them bought in Chicago stores. Six were found to contain amounts of mercury banned by federal law. Of those, five had more than 6,000 parts per million of mercury — enough to potentially cause kidney damage over time, according to a medical expert.

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Associated Press: New Federal Rule Targets Harmful Mercury Emissions
May 5, 2010, 9:21 am
Filed under: News, Spotlight on... Mercury
By MATTHEW DALY (AP) – 4 days ago

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration says 5,000 deaths could be prevented each year under new rules announced Friday to limit the amount of mercury and other harmful pollutants released by industrial boilers and solid waste incinerators.

The planned rules would reduce mercury emissions more than 50 percent by requiring steep and costly cuts from companies operating some 200,000 industrial boilers, heaters and incinerators.

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed the rules Friday and must seek public comment before they are made final.

Industrial boilers and heaters are the second largest source of mercury emissions in the United States, after coal-fired power plants. The boilers burn coal and other fuels to generate heat or electricity and are used by petroleum refiners, chemical and manufacturing plants, paper mills, municipal utilities and even shopping malls and universities.

The incinerators burn waste to dispose of it, and some also turn it into energy.

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