Mercury in northern Minnesota lakes is falling in sync with emission curbs
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This week a research team led by Mark Brigham, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s office in Mound, published a groundbreaking piece of research on mercury contamination of northern Minnesota lakes.

For the first time, Brigham explained to me on Wednesday, scientists were able to clearly correlate measured declines in “wet deposition” of atmospheric mercury, carried to earth by rain, with declining levels of methylmercury in lake water and in fish.

As we’ve all come to understand through a few decades of public-health warnings about eating too many tainted game fish, methylmercury is the form that accumulates and — my favorite new word of the week — “biomagnifies” in fish.

But we’ve also come to understand that almost everything about the science of what happens to mercury once it drops to earth is highly convoluted. By contrast, the design of Brigham’s study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, was straightforward

 

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