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Science Features from the Mercury in Aquatic Ecosystems Investigation

Highlights of research findings.

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Looking up at at power plant smoke stack

North American and European Atmospheric Mercury Declines Explained by Local and Regional Emission Reductions

Recent findings from a consortium of university, State, and USGS scientists indicate that declining atmospheric concentrations of mercury (Hg) can be explained by the phaseout of mercury in many commercial products and by reduced emissions from utilities over the past two decades. ...

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A map that shows mercury source attribution in the Great Lakes

New Tool to Track Sources and Exposure Pathways of Mercury in the Environment — Application for Predatory Fish in the Great Lakes

The US Geological Survey (USGS) and collaborators at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a new tool for attributing (fingerprinting) mercury sources to the Great Lakes. This new fingerprinting tool helps resource managers understand which mitigation strategies will be most effective for reducing mercury loading and exposure to fish and wildlife. ...

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Power plant smoke stacks

Comprehensive Assessment of Mercury in Streams Explains Major Sources, Cycling, and Effects

A new USGS report, Mercury in the Nation's Streams—Levels, Trends, and Implications, presents a comprehensive assessment of mercury contamination in streams across the United States. It highlights the importance of environmental processes, monitoring, and control strategies for understanding and reducing stream mercury levels. ...

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Scientists measuring field water-quality parameters

Land Disposal of Wastewater Can Result in Elevated Mercury in Groundwater

Field studies conducted in the United States have shown that mercury concentrations in groundwater affected by wastewater disposal can exceed the drinking water maximum contaminant level (MCL) established by the Environmental Protection Agency (2 micrograms per liter of water, g/L). Two recently published reports by scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of Maine, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) help to explain what can lead to elevated mercury levels in groundwater. ...

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Reflooded post-harvest rice straw

Water Management During Rice Production Influences Methylmercury Production

USGS scientists found that management practices relating to water drawdown and re-flooding in agricultural wetlands used for rice production contributed to higher methylmercury concentrations in sediment than was found in nonagricultural wetlands that were permanently or seasonally flooded. ...

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Areal photograph of lakes in Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

Complex Response to Decline in Atmospheric Deposition of Mercury

USGS scientists found that mercury concentrations in shallow waters and methylmercury (MeHg) concentrations in fish in four lakes in Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota, were not consistent with decreases in the wet atmospheric deposition of mercury recorded at nearby monitoring stations for over a decade. ...

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USGS scientist sampling for dissolved mercury species

Environmental Mercury Cycling and Global Change

Rising global temperatures and changing human actions will significantly affect the environmental distribution of mercury worldwide ...

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USGS Mobile Atmospheric Mercury Laboratory trailer

Clues to High Mercury Along the Gulf Coast

Two USGS studies have brought new insights into the fate of mercury in the Gulf Coast region ...

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A scientist in white protective suite applying a solution of water with sprayer

Some Ecosystems will Respond to Reductions in Mercury Emissions

Scientists demonstrate that changes in mercury loadings are expected to result in proportional changes in mercury bioaccumulation in fish ...

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USGS scientist sampling for dissolved mercury species

Mercury from Yellowstone's Geysers

Mercury from Yellowstone's Geysers - A summary of recent USGS work on mercury in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming ...

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