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Mercury emissions greater in lakes near urban areas

Study by USGS includes Portland, other metro areas

Mercury deposits in lakes within 30 miles of Portland and nine other North American cities are four times higher than lakes more than 90 miles from those cities, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The study of 10 metro areas is the first to quantify the relationship betwen mercury fallout and distance from urban centers.

Coal-fired power plants and industries are the primary sources of mercury emissions, which can travel far in the atmosphere and ultimately accumulate in fish and harm wildlife and humans.

'This finding could have important implications for management of mercury emissions to reduce the risks mercury poses  to humans and wildlife,' said USGS scientist Peter Van Metre, author of the study. 'The results illustrate the importance of reducing mercury emissions in the U.S. and not focusing only on emissions globally.'

An abstract of the report can be found in the journal Environmental Pollution, at sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749111006191.