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Fish Near Coal-fired Power Plants Have Lower Levels of Mercury, Says Study

by Kathy Jones on  October 8, 2010 at 10:01 PM Environmental Health   - G J E 4
Fish located near coal-fired power plants have lower levels of mercury than fish that live much further away, a new study from North Carolina State University has found.
 Fish Near Coal-fired Power Plants Have Lower Levels of Mercury, Says Study
Fish Near Coal-fired Power Plants Have Lower Levels of Mercury, Says Study
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The surprising finding appears to be linked to high levels of another chemical, selenium, found near such facilities, which unfortunately poses problems of its own.

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"We found that fish in lakes located at least 30 kilometers (km) from a coal-fired power plant had mercury levels more than three times higher than fish of the same species in lakes that are within 10 km of a plant," says Dana Sackett, a Ph.D. student at NC State and the lead author of a paper describing the study. "This information will inform health and wildlife officials who make determinations about fish consumption advisories and wildlife management decisions."

The findings are surprising because coal-fired power plants are the leading source of mercury air emissions globally, and a significant amount of that mercury is expected to settle out of the air within 10 km of a plant's smokestacks. Mercury is a bioaccumulative toxin that builds up in animal tissues - including fish - and can pose public health problems related to fish consumption.



Source: Eurekalert
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