Navigation Links
Study: Fish near coal-fired power plants have lower levels of mercury
Date:10/5/2010

A new study from North Carolina State University finds that fish located near coal-fired power plants have lower levels of mercury than fish that live much further away. 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.

"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.

The researchers examined largemouth bass and bluegill from 14 freshwater lakes seven within 10 km of a plant and seven that were a minimum of 30 km from a plant. The species were chosen because they are commonly caught and eaten by recreational anglers, and because they represent two very different places in the food chain. Largemouth bass are apex predators at the top of the food chain, which consume smaller fish. As a result, since mercury builds up in the food chain, they would be expected to show higher levels of mercury. Bluegill are smaller fish that primarily dine on invertebrates, such as insects, and would be expected to show lower levels of mercury.

The researchers found that the mercury levels went up more than threefold in both species at lakes located further from the power plants, meaning that the location effect impacts fish regardless of their place in the food chain.

The researchers think that the lower mercury levels near power plants are likely linked to selenium levels. Fish tissue samples taken within 10 km of a coal-fired power plant showed selenium levels three times higher than samples taken from fish located further away. This shows an inverse relationship to the mercury levels the higher the selenium level, the lower the mercury level.

Selenium, which is also emitted by coal-fired plants, is known to have an antagonistic relationship to mercury, though the specific mechanisms at play are not clearly defined. In other words, the selenium prevents fish from accumulating high levels of mercury, and we're still working on the specifics of how that happens.

However, while lower mercury levels are a good thing, higher levels of selenium pose their own risks. "Selenium is an important dietary element," says Dr. Derek Aday, associate professor of biology at NC State and a co-author of the paper. "But at high levels, it can have serious consequences including lethal effects and an array of health problems for fish and wildlife."


'/>"/>

Contact: Matt Shipman
matt_shipman@ncsu.edu
919-515-6386
North Carolina State University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Study: urban black bears live fast, die young
2. Study: Bird diversity lessens human exposure to West Nile Virus
3. Study: Tropical wetlands hold more carbon than temperate marshes
4. Study: Wildlife need more complex travel plans
5. Study: Elderly Women can increase strength but still risk falls
6. UNC study: Text messaging may help children fight off obesity
7. Study: Did early climate impact divert a new glacial age?
8. Study: Excessive use of antiviral drugs could aid deadly flu
9. UNC study: Tinkering with the circadian clock can suppress cancer growth
10. Study: Fluid buildup in lungs is part of the damage done by the flu
11. Study: Health undervalued in reproductive rights debate
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Study: Fish near coal-fired power plants have lower levels of mercury
(Date:4/5/2017)... KEY FINDINGS The global market for stem ... 25.76% during the forecast period of 2017-2025. The rise ... growth of the stem cell market. Download ... The global stem cell market is segmented on the ... cell market of the product is segmented into adult ...
(Date:4/3/2017)... 2017  Data captured by IsoCode, IsoPlexis ... a statistically significant association between the potency ... and objective response of cancer patients post-treatment. ... whether cancer patients will respond to CAR-T ... as to improve both pre-infusion potency testing and ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... -- The research team of The Hong Kong Polytechnic ... by adopting ground breaking 3D fingerprint minutiae recovery and matching technology, ... accuracy for use in identification, crime investigation, immigration control, security of ... ... A research team led by Dr ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/27/2017)... , April 27, 2017  Kinexum, a distinguished ... products, today announces the appointment of Thomas C. ... Alexander ("Zan") Fleming, M.D., Kinexum founder, who becomes Executive ... advisor to Kinexum clients. Thomas Seoh ... on the Kinexum mission and lead the firm,s remarkable ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... Myrtle Beach, SC (PRWEB) , ... April 26, ... ... for the mind, has teamed up with NASA to showcase the future of ... NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft and includes a guest ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... ... 25, 2017 , ... LABS, Inc. (LABS) announced in December 2016 that ... menu: Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) for ZIKV; and Enzyme Immunoassays (EIAs) specific for IgM ... screening for blood donors under an Investigational New Drug (IND) study protocol. , ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... , ... April 26, 2017 , ... ... EMEA and North America this May on the following ... , Donald H. Taylor, Chairman of the Learning and Performance Institute will be ...
Breaking Biology Technology: