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Scientists find mercury threatens next generation of loons
Date:3/4/2008

hicks.

In addition to behavior, the concentration of mercury in loons has physiological impacts as well.

Researchers found that loons with high mercury loads have unevenly sized flight feathers. Birds with wing asymmetries of more than 5 percent must expend 20 percent more energy than normal birds to fly, a deficiency that may impact their ability to migrate and maintain a breeding territory.

This study confirms what weve long suspectedmercury from human activities such as coal-burning power plantsis having a significant negative impact on the environment and the health of its most charismatic denizens, and potentially, to humans, too, said Nina Schoch of the Wildlife Conservation Societys Adirondack Program. Thus, it becomes even more urgent for the EPA to propose effective national regulations for mercury emissions from power plants that are based on sound science.

Although many northeastern states have implemented stringent mercury emission rules, a nationwide regulation has yet to be passed. The U.S. District Court of Appeals recently struck down the EPAs proposed Cap-and-Trade Rule for mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, which would have led to localized hotspots of mercury, a highly toxic pollutant. The ecological impacts of mercury identified in this study illustrate the need for comprehensive, national regulations to limit mercury emissions, added Schoch.


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Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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