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 Mercury 'hot Spots' Identified In U.s. And Canada, could harm human health; ecosystems.
Posted: Jan 6 2007, 12:04 AM

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Saturday, January 6, 2007; Page A07

Two newly published scientific reports suggest that mercury contamination has created at least five "hot spots" in New England and Canada, places where the neurotoxin has accumulated in fish and wildlife to such an extent that it could harm human health and local ecosystems.

The 11 scientists, who work at institutions including Syracuse University and Vermont's Department of Environmental Conservation, analyzed how mercury has accumulated in two indicator species in the northern United States and southern Canada. In both cases, they were able to identify several regions where mercury in yellow perch and common loons was above acceptable levels.

David C. Evans, who heads a Maine-based nonprofit group called the BioDiversity Research Institute and is one of the papers' lead authors, said the study shows that some areas of the country are more susceptible to mercury pollution than others.

"You need to look at the fish and wildlife to understand what areas are problematic," Evans said. "A coal-burning plant in a wetland area would have far greater impact on human health and wildlife than a coal-burning plant in a dry, grassy area."

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