Levels of mercury in dolphins linked to exposure in humans, groundbreaking study finds

Dec 11, 2015

Source: Florida Atlantic University

What do mercury levels in dolphins say about mercury levels in humans? Quite a bit, according to a new study by scientists at FAU Harbor Branch, which sheds light on the potential dangers of consuming locally caught seafood.

This is the first time that researchers have closed the loop between marine mammal and human health, by taking findings from their research and applying them to explore the potential risks facing humans living in the same region.

The study centers around dolphins living in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), Florida and humans who live along the estuary and consume much of the same seafood as the dolphins. Initial studies of IRL dolphins showed high levels of mercury, which led scientists to conduct a follow-up study of humans who live in the same geographic area. The most toxic form of mercury known as methylmercury builds up in fish, shellfish, and animals that eat fish, and are the main sources of mercury exposure in humans.


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2 comments on “Levels of mercury in dolphins linked to exposure in humans, groundbreaking study finds

  • @OP – The study centers around dolphins living in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), Florida and humans who live along the estuary and consume much of the same seafood as the dolphins.

    The seafood, from estuaries and lagoons fed by rivers, which is consumed by dolphins and humans, is often loaded with mercury from the combustion of coal or from other industrial and agricultural pollutants.
    In places like the USA, the fish in the RIVERS and LAKES, have even higher concentrations of mercury than the estuaries where the sea-water dilutes the outflows!

    http://www.nrdc.org/media/2012/120606a.asp
    OH, PA and IN Are Home to Region’s Worst Mercury Polluters, Followed by MI, IL, WI, MN and NY; Vote in Congress to Test Support of Region’s U.S. Senators for EPA Curb on Neurotoxin.

    CHICAGO (June 6, 2012) –Just ahead of a major U.S. Senate vote on the Environmental Protection Administration’s authority to clean up mercury and other toxic air pollutants, a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report shows that the 25 worst coal-fired power plants account for more than half of the dangerous mercury pollution emitted by the total of 144 electricity generation facilities in the Great Lakes region. The report also finds that almost 90 percent of the toxic emissions could be eliminated with off-the-shelf technologies.

    According to “Poisoning the Great Lakes: Mercury Emissions from Coal-Fired Power Plants In the Great Lakes Region,” Ohio emits the largest amount of mercury from coal-fired power plants (21 percent of the total in the Great Lakes region), followed closely by Pennsylvania (20 percent) and Indiana (16 percent). The remaining five states in the region rank as follows: Michigan (14 percent); Illinois (11 percent); Wisconsin (9.5 percent); Minnesota (6.5 percent); and New York (2 percent). Plants from outside the region also contribute to mercury pollution in the Great Lakes.

    “Mercury is a dangerous brain poison that doesn’t belong in our Great Lakes,” said Thom Cmar, attorney in , Natural Resources Defense Council office in Chicago, said:

    It puts the health of kids and pregnant women at risk and adds an unwelcome danger to eating what our fishermen catch. That’s why it is so important that we support the EPA’s standards to reduce mercury pollution by holding polluters accountable. Even more critical is that every single US Senator from the region stand up for the Lakes by rejecting reckless attempts to derail the long overdue Clean Air Act updates that can help tame this problem.”

    The Great Lakes region’s five worst coal-fired power plants for mercury pollution are: Shawville (Clearfield County, PA); Monroe (Monroe County, MI); Homer City (Indiana County, PA); Cardinal (Jefferson County, OH); and Sherburne County (Sherburne County, MN). (See the complete list below of the worst 25.) A dozen power plants in Ohio and Indiana — owned in whole or part by American Electric Power — accounted for 19 percent of all mercury emitted in 2010 from the total of 144 coal-fired power plants in the region.

    U.S. Senator James Inhofe, R-OK, recently filed a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution (S.J. Res. 37) to void health standards reducing mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants and to permanently block EPA from re-issuing similar safeguards.

    Elect stooge-monkeys – and you could live in the toxic soup!



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