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Mercury in Bay Area fish a legacy of California mining
Date:1/25/2011

o one location, rather than migrating around the bay, any mercury they have is most likely present in that location."

Looking at MDF fingerprints in sediments, the researchers saw that the values were distributed along a gradient from north to south. MDF fingerprints in the fish from different locations mirrored the pattern found in the sediments, suggesting the fish were acquiring mercury directly from the sediments.

Where did the mercury in the sediments come from?

"Our analysis of the sediments showed that it's most likely coming from either two or three dominant sources," Gehrke said. "There's one distinct fingerprint coming from historic mercury mines to the south and a different fingerprint coming from historic gold mines to the north. We see intermediate values in sediments in the middle of the bay, which could represent either mixing of the two or possibly a separate third source, so we can't say for sure whether it's two or three sources. But the fact that we see at least two separate fingerprints and a strong spatial gradient instead of a hodgepodge of many different fingerprints tells us that the mercury is coming from a small number of large sources rather than a lot of localized sources like a power plant here, a refinery there."

The researchers hope the results will help local agencies decide where to focus their efforts to protect wildlife from exposure to mercury.


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Contact: Nancy Ross-Flanigan
rossflan@umich.edu
734-647-1853
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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