Mercury in the Great Lakes

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Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


Mercury (Hg) pollution of the Laurentian Great Lakes region of the United States has led to fish consumption advisories not only for the Great Lakes themselves, but also for inland lakes in the Great Lakes region. These policies are of considerable concern to First Nation and American Indian communities and others who remain heavily reliant on fish consumption. Advice to restrict fish consumption results from human emissions of Hg into the atmosphere, Hg transport through the atmosphere, and eventual deposition some distance downwind. In this article, we first relate how atmospheric Hg, or rather its toxic form methylmercury (MeHg), ends up in fish we consume, then discuss how Hg environmental cycling is influenced by differing landscapes and examine how Hg regulations affect Hg deposition differently within the upper and lower Great Lakes and their inland water bodies.

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Copyright 2019. em • The Magazine for Environmental Managers • A&WMA. Publisher’s version of record:

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The Magazine for Environmental Managers