» Mercury

The Extent and Effects of Mercury Pollution in the Great Lakes Region

The Great Lakes Commission sponsored a binational scientific synthesis effort through its U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-funded Great Lakes Air Deposition program. The purpose of the synthesis project was to foster binational collaboration among mercury researchers and resource managers from government, academic, and nonprofit institutions to compile a wide variety of mercury data for the Great Lakes region, and to address key questions concerning mercury contamination, the bioaccumulation of methylmercury in food webs, and the resulting exposures and risks. The synthesis effort began in November of 2008 and has involved more than 170 scientists and managers working to compile and evaluate more than 300,000 mercury measurements and to conduct new modeling and analyses. This synthesis provides a comprehensive overview of the sources, cycling, and impacts of mercury in the Great Lakes region. The primary results of this initiative have been published in a series of more than 35 scientific papers in the journals Ecotoxicology and Environmental Pollution and are distilled here for use by decision makers and the public. Read More

Global Mercury Hotspots New Evidence Reveals Mercury Contamination Regularly Exceeds Health Advisory Levels in Humans and Fish Worldwide

Mercury is a well-known neurotoxin that damages the kidneys and many body systems including the nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, hematologic, immune, and reproductive systems (UNEP/WHO 2008). IPEN and Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) have collaborated to conduct a global mercury study in response to strong public and governmental interest in the negotiation and signing of a mercury treaty— the first global treaty on the environment in well over a decade by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The IPEN-BRI collaboration provides a rare opportunity to compile new and standardized mercury concentrations on a global basis. The Global Fish and Community Mercury Monitoring Project is the first of its kind to identify, in one collaborative effort, global biological mercury hotspots. These hotspots are of particular concern to human populations. Read More

Mercury in the Global Environment

Mercury, the Marine Environment, and Risk of Human Exposure Mercury (Hg) is a pollutant of global importance that adversely affects human health and the environment. Environmental concentrations of mercury have increased three-fold due to anthropogenic activities, and the world’s oceans are one of the primary reservoirs where mercury is deposited (Mason et al. 2012). People are commonly exposed to mercury through the consumption of shellfish, fish, and some marine mammals. However, there is a gap in our understanding of the relationship between anthropogenic releases of mercury and its subsequent biomagnification and bioaccumulation in seafood such as lobster, tuna, and swordfish. Determining how that translates to human exposure and risk on local, regional, and global scales is essential. Read More

Mercury in the Nation's Streams - Levels, Trends, and Implications

This report summarizes selected stream studies conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) since the late 1990s, while also drawing on scientific literature and datasets from other sources. Previous national mercury assessments by other agencies have focused largely on lakes. Although numerous studies of mercury in streams have been conducted at local and regional scales, recent USGS studies provide the most comprehensive, multimedia assessment of streams across the United States, and yield insights about the importance of watershed characteristics relative to mercury inputs. Information from other environments (lakes, wetlands, soil, atmosphere, glacial ice) also is summarized to help understand how mercury varies in space and time. Read More

Hepatotoxicity of Mercury to Fish

Tissue samples from spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus) and largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) were collected from Caddo Lake. Gar and bass livers were subjected to histological investigation and color analysis. Liver color (as abs at 400 nm) was significantly correlated with total mercury in the liver (r2 = 0.57, p = 0.02) and muscle (r2 = 0.58, p = 0.01) of gar. Evidence of liver damage as lipofuscin and discoloration was found in both species but only correlated with liver mercury concentration in spotted gar. Inorganic mercury was the predominant form in gar livers. In order to determine the role of mercury speciation in fish liver damage, a laboratory feeding study was employed. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) were fed either a control (0.12 ± 0.002 µg Hg.g-1 dry wt), inorganic mercury (5.03 ± 0.309 µg Hg.g-1 dry wt), or methylmercury (4.11 ± 0.146 µg Hg.g-1 dry wt) diet. After 78 days of feeding, total mercury was highest in the carcass of zebrafish fed methylmercury (12.49 ± 0.369 µg Hg.g-1 dry wt), intermediate in those fed inorganic mercury (1.09 ± 0.117 µg Hg.g-1 dry wt), and lowest in fish fed the control diet (0.48 ± 0.038 µg Hg.g-1 dry wt). Total mercury was highest in the viscera of methylmercury fed zebrafish (11.6 ± 1.86 µg Hg.g-1 dry wt), intermediate in those fed inorganic diets (4.3 ± 1.08 µg Hg.g-1 dry wt), and lowest in the control fish (below limit of detection). Total mercury was negatively associated with fish length and weight in methylmercury fed fish. Condition factor was not associated with total mercury and might not be the best measure of fitness for these fish. No liver pathologies were observed in zebrafish from any treatment. Read More

Books on Global Warming

A list of recommended books on global warming and climate change for science, business, and children. Read More

Eco-Logical: Water Pollution Causes

A list of water pollution causes. Read More

Eco-Logical: Water Pollution Facts

Water pollution facts and figures. Read More

Eco-Logical: “Jaws V: Angry But Enfeebled”

An article on water pollution effects on animals, humans, plants, and ecosystems. Read More

Regulating Mercury from Power Plants: A Model Rule of States and Localities

Regulating Mercury from Power Plants: A Model Rule for States and Localities (Model Rule) for coal-fired electric generating units (EGUs) is intended to provide state and local governments the tools needed to obtain reductions in mercury emissions required to meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The Model Rule would protect public health using technologies that are available and rapidly entering the commercial market. Read More


EERL's mission is to be the best possible online collection of environmental and energy sustainability resources for community college educators and for their students. The resources are also available for practitioners and the public.


EERL is a product of a community college-based National Science Foundation Center, the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC), and its partners.

Contact ATEEC 563.441.4087 or by email ateec@eicc.edu