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Ecotoxicology. 2011 Oct;20(7):1487-99. doi: 10.1007/s10646-011-0784-0. Epub 2011 Sep 11.

Mercury in the Great Lakes region: bioaccumulation, spatiotemporal patterns, ecological risks, and policy.

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Biodiversity Research Institute, Gorham, ME 04038, USA.


This special issue examines bioaccumulation and risks of methylmercury in food webs, fish and wildlife in the Laurentian Great Lakes region of North America, and explores mercury policy in the region and elsewhere in the United States and Canada. A total of 35 papers emanated from a bi-national synthesis of multi-media data from monitoring programs and research investigations on mercury in aquatic and terrestrial biota, a 3-year effort involving more than 170 scientists and decision-makers from 55 different universities, non-governmental organizations, and governmental agencies. Over 290,000 fish mercury data points were compiled from monitoring programs and research investigations. The findings from this scientific synthesis indicate that (1) mercury remains a pollutant of major concern in the Great Lakes region, (2) that the scope and intensity of the problem is greater than previously recognized and (3) that after decades of declining mercury levels in fish and wildlife concentrations are now increasing in some species and areas. While the reasons behind these shifting trends require further study, they also underscore the need to identify information gaps and expand monitoring efforts to better track progress. This will be particularly important as new pollution prevention measures are implemented, as global sources increase, and as the region faces changing environmental conditions.

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