Monday, January 30, 2012

Mercury in New Brunswick

That levels of mercury are high and pervasive in New Brunswick and the northeastern US has long been known. A new report Mercury in Terrestrial Ecosystems of the Northeast from The Biodiversity Research Institute in Gorham Maine underscores the issue. The report provides a good overview of the impact of mercury and related policy issues. The key finding is that mercury accumulation, previously considered a risk for aquatic ecosystems, is also found in many wildlife species living on the land. Unfortunately, the study is limited to 11 northeastern states, so there is little direct information about New Brunswick.

Their website, however, does have links referring back to the results of an earlier 2001-05 project focusing on mercury disposition in the aquatic systems of Northeastern North America. This project, which involved Environment Canada as a partner, provides information about NB.

One of the more interesting aspects of the new report is the information comparing the US sources of the emissions in 1990 with those in 2005. Emissions from medical and municipal waste incinerators have been reduced by over 95%, while emissions from coal fired electrical generating plants remain essentially unchanged.

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