Mercury pollution can threaten the health of people, fish, and
wildlife everywhere, from industrial sites to remote corners of the planet, and reducing
mercury use and emissions would lessen those threats, according to a declaration
recently ratified at the Eighth International Conference
on Mercury as a Global Pollutant, co-hosted by the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute.
According to Dr. Edward Swain, a scientist at the Minnesota Pollution Agency, the social and economic costs of mercury are probably higher than currently estimated, because they don’t take into account mercury’s impact on wildlife.
• Reductions in local and regional point-source mercury emissions have lowered mercury levels in the fish and wildlife affected by them. However, increasing mercury concentrations are now being found in a number of fish-eating wildlife (such as pike, walleye, and lake trout; mammals such as mink, otter, polar bears, and seals; and birds such as common loons, bald eagles, osprey, cormorants and kingfishers) in remote areas.
• Methylmercury exposure may lead to population declines in birds and possibly in fish and mammals as well.