Category Archives: mercury contamination

Study: Mercury can hurt Adirondack Common Loons

This is actually a long-existing problem, but you wouldn’t figure that out from the headline over this newspaper article. Makes me recall the night I lay in a bunk at the Adirondack Loj and heard a loon’s yodeling song from nearby Heart Lake. I think that was in the summer of 1987.

RFK Jr. on coal: It corrupts and posions

“Anybody who touches coal gets poisoned by it,” said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., president of the environmental advocacy group Waterkeeper Alliance. “You don’t just get sick. It poisons democracy, it poisons communities, it poisons values.” He’s right. So why do we keep doing it? Duh?

Mercury’s harmful reach has grown, study finds

And the Northeast, being downwind from the coal-fired power plants that emit the toxin, bears the brunt of the damage, that’s now being detected in the region’s songbirds, as the study described in this piece illustrates.

Springtime for toxics

Toxics; as in mercury emitted by coal-fired power plants. The EPA has taken action to finally stop the pollution, but the pro-pollution Republicans are pissed off now, as NY Times columnist Paul Krugman explains. People who care – and I mean really care – about the future have got to ensure that one of these polluter-friendly Republicans is NOT elected (or is “selected?”) president in 2012.

Common loon’s call stirs good memories

Here is my latest newspaper column, in which I recount a pleasing wildlife experience of a week ago and another such moment experienced from our yard at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, N.Y., in the late 80s.

Long-delayed rules for cleaner air

Anyone who, over the years, has followed the decimation of North Country lakes by fallouts of mercury and acid rain should read and appreciate this editorial on the Obama administration’s just-announced Clean Air Act rules. The Common Loons of northern New England and the Adirondacks would appreciate it.

EPA proposes tugh rules on coal-fired power plants

Only carbon dioxide is not among the emissions targeted by the new proposal. Read about Administrator Lisa Jackson’s decision here. Greenhouse gases? What greenhouse gases?

Research study: Mercury found in every fish tested

This is yet another reason to stop burning coal, a fossil fuel, to make electricity (which a lot of people continue to waste, by the way). Read this NY Times snippet for more info. I remember the day my boss, then a full colonel and commander of the USAF fighter wing at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, shamed unit commanders into turning outside lights off during the day. How did he do this? By showing photographs at a wing staff meeting that showed those lights burning during daylight hours.

To learn more about how mercury, a heavy metal, gets into our atmosphere, NOAA has a nice tutorial here.

Toxic metal in food chain

I used to perform Air Force Reserve duty down in the Hampton, Va., area (Langley AFB), and I still follow the goings-on down there. The Newport News Daily Press reported the other day on mercury contamination in fish.

An excerpt from Patrick Lynch’s report:

“Testing for mercury in fish tissue the past few years has revealed a startling problem: Remote rivers in Southeastern Virginia, even the supposedly ‘pristine’ Dragon Run, are tainted with the toxic metal. Now a new study will seek to learn more about mercury sources in Virginia and whether the state’s regulations on mercury emissions need to be tweaked.”

I wouldn’t eat any fish caught in Pennsylvania waters either. The contamination is just too great. Consumption advisories, first issued more than a decade ago by the state Department of Health, are renewed annually with only minor changes — usually more stringent guidelines.

You can read Pennsylvania’s 2007 consumption advisory here.

When I was catching cutthroats out of a mountain stream in central Idaho half a lifetime ago, we always kept a few for breakfast. Those days are long gone. Our industrial “economy” is to blame. What would Teddy say about that?

Carl Hiaasen on ‘The Last Thing the River of Grass needs’

Hiaasen, author of the funnier-than-heck conservation-satire novel “Tourist Season” and a bunch of other novels in the same vein, editorializes in the Miami Herald against a huge new coal-fired power plant planned for a site amid the headwaters of (what is left of) the Everglades. Read it here.