Mercury Poisoning: It's Not Just Fish...

"It is clear to me that the mercury story is much more complex than scientists initially thought," says Jörg Feldmann, an environmental chemist at Aberdeen University, UK. The more places scientists look for mercury, the more they find. Most people think that fish is responsible for bringing mercury into the food chain (to fish-eating birds and so on), but the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) published a study based on 65 other studies that shows that mercury is affecting more species than we might think, and the impacts are very negative, especially when added to habitat destruction, climate change, etc.The good news is, we can do something:

[Catherine] Bowes and the report authors called on federal government to mandate coal-powered power stations — a major source of mercury in the environment — to install mercury filtration devices. "Our federal government is not doing enough," says Bowes. In US states where these measures have been introduced, for example Florida, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, mercury levels in wildlife dropped dramatically: in just a few years, rather than the predicted decades.

We should also make sure that fluorescent light are recycled, and that it is easy to do so. They generally release less mercury in the environment than incandescent (see this), but it is not a reason to send them to landfills. The best way to do things would probably to pay people for bringing back the fluorescents, like with beer bottles. ::Mercury survey highlights contamination (paid registration required)