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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances


U.S. Geological Survey Toxic Substances Hydrology Program--Proceedings of the Technical Meeting Charleston South Carolina March 8-12,1999--Volume 2 of 3--Contamination of Hydrologic Systems and Related Ecosystems, Water-Resources Investigation Report 99-4018B

Table of Contents

Mercury Contamination: A Nationwide Threat to Our Aquatic Resources, and a Proposed Research Agenda for the U.S. Geological Survey

By David P. Krabbenhoft and James G. Wiener

This report is available in pdf format: pdfKrabbenhoft .pdf


This document describes the national mercury problem, identifies critical data gaps, and proposes the framework for a national mercury investigation. The overall goal of this investigation is to provide scientific information needed by resource managers and environmental planners to identify and evaluate options for reducing exposure of humans and wildlife to this highly toxic metal. Several key questions regarding environmental mercury contamination will be addressed. What are the relative contributions of natural sources and selected human sources to the mercury-contamination problem? What criteria can be used to identify mercury-sensitive ecosystems, in which seemingly small inputs of mercury can cause serious contamination of fish and fish-eating wildlife? What factors and processes control the sensitivity of aquatic ecosystems to mercury? Are there potential ecosystem-management approaches for reducing methylmercury contamination of aquatic biota? What levels of mercury in fish are harmful to fish-eating wildlife? Answers to these questions will provide information critically needed to assess and reduce health and ecological risks of environmental mercury contamination.

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