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HIGH MERCURY LEVELS
FOUND IN RAIN

Alarming New Data Reveals Dangerous Mercury Levels in Rain Falling Over Southern, Gulf Coast and Mid-Atlantic States

A new National Wildlife Federation (NWF) report reveals that the rain falling from the skies over 12 Gulf Coast, southeastern and mid-Atlantic states contains levels of mercury far exceeding what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers "safe" for people and wildlife in surface waters.

"We usually think of rain as pure and clean," said Mark Van Putten, president of the National Wildlife Federation. "But this report reveals that the rain falling over these states contains ominous levels of mercury and threatens the health of people and wildlife."

The report, titled Cycle of Harm: Mercury's Pathway from Rain to Fish in the Environment, found that mercury contamination levels in rain and snow falling over a dozen states consistently exceeded the EPA's "safe" standards for mercury in surface water.

For this report, NWF analyzed mercury rain data in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas. State profiles provide data on mercury sources, fish advisories, sport fishing revenue and mercury-related activities.

This report illustrates the significance of mercury air pollution sources in contaminating our nation's lakes and streams and fish. It makes clear that current efforts to eliminate mercury sources are woefully inadequate. Much more can, and should be done, said Felice Stadler, national policy coordinator for NWF's Clean the Rain campaign.

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that has made its way into the food supply, contaminating fish and posing a risk to people and wildlife that consume fish. Most at risk are children and the unborn. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 12 women of childbearing age (8 percent) has blood mercury levels exceeding the EPA safe level for protection of the fetus. This translates into approximately 320,000 babies born annually in the United States at-risk for neuro-developmental delays.

In wildlife, mercury is a reproductive hazard with harmful effects on species such as rainbow trout, zebra fish, mallard and American black ducks, loons and terns, otters and mink. As a result, 43 states nationwide have issued advisories warning people to limit consumption of fish caught from inland lakes, streams and coastal waters.

In addition to calling for nationwide controls on mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants and the elimination of mercury in products and manufacturing, the report recommends specific actions each state can take to safeguard the health of people and wildlife.

Written by: National Wildlife Federation


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