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Report: Mercury Levels Mostly Down In Great Lakes

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Lake Superior (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

CBS Detroit (con't)

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A newly released report says mercury levels in the Great Lakes region generally have dropped over the past four decades, although concentrations in some fish and bird species have increased more recently.

The report, “Great Lakes Mercury Connections: The Extent and Effects of Mercury Pollution in the Great Lakes Region”, was being released Tuesday at a news conference in Detroit. It sums up the findings of 35 recently completed scientific papers.

Scientists credit reduced air emissions in the Great Lakes region and nationwide for the drop in mercury levels in the lakes.

“The good news is that efforts to control mercury pollution have been very beneficial,” said David C. Evers, Ph.D., executive director at Biodiversity Research Institute, and the principal investigator in the Great Lakes study.

“However, as we broaden our investigations, we find that fish and wildlife are affected at lower mercury concentrations and across larger areas, and that impacts can be quite serious.”

The report represents the work of more than 170 scientists, researchers, and resource managers who used more than 300,000 mercury measurements to document the impact and trends of mercury pollution on the Great Lakes region.

It comes about a month before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is scheduled to release tougher rules for emissions from coal-fired power plants, a leading source of mercury.

But despite the drop-off, the report says mercury pollution exceed thresholds for posing health risks to humans and the environment in many areas, especially inland waterways.

Get more informaiton from the Biodiversity Research Institute at this link.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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