Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Mercury lurks: Think twice about eating fish caught in Ohio streams

By Dan Klepal
Enquirer staff writer

A new study by the Ohio Public Interest Research Group found that all of the more than 1,000 fish caught in 70 different state waterways were contaminated with mercury, a harmful neurotoxin that can damage developing brains and nervous systems in babies.

The study, called "Reel Danger," analyzed state and federal Environmental Protection Agency data on toxins in fish tissue. It found that some of Ohio's most popular sport fish, including walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and northern pike - contain dangerous mercury levels.

In addition, the study said that power companies that generate electricity from coal-fired plants - such as the handful of Cinergy plants in the region - are the biggest source of mercury.

Fish were sampled in several waterways in Greater Cincinnati, including the Ohio River, Mill Creek and the Little Miami River.

Industry representatives say the study is flawed in several respects, including its assumption that the mercury in fish comes from power company smokestacks.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issues annual warnings to people who catch fish for their dinner, saying they should generally eat no more than one fish meal per week from Ohio waters, because of mercury.

National EPA scientists also estimated earlier this year that one in six women of childbearing age has enough mercury in their blood to put unborn children at risk of mercury poisoning.

The PIRG report adds to those findings by basing its report on the first available data from U.S. EPA's ongoing National Study of Chemical Residues in Lake Fish Tissue. The report also considered recent state EPA fish testing.

Erin Bowser, state director of the Ohio PIRG, said power plant emissions are by far the biggest source of mercury in the environment, and called on the federal government to tighten a current proposal that would reduce mercury emissions by 70 percent in about 14 years and allow power companies that pollute more than the law allows to purchase pollution "credits." Bowser said current technologies would allow a 90 percent reduction in mercury emissions in five years or less.


8 school levies fail
County election sites
'No!' Norwood majority roars about 14-mill levy
Monroe increase fails
Mt. Healthy OKs levy

Festival seating likely to return
Mayor Luken may be angling for run at statewide office
Freedom Center taps emotions
Last exhibit intended to get people talking
Young workers lack coverage

Spending up at Cincinnati schools
Ex-felons' voting rights misstated
Lakota puts levy on ballot this fall
Local news briefs
Mercury lurks: Think twice about eating fish caught in Ohio streams
Lead-laden parcel won't delay planned Warren County subdivision
Neighbors briefs
Wording leaves details to courts
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium euthanizes 39-year-old gorilla with inoperable cancer
Panel to debate opening park gate
Public safety briefs
Lawsuit: Bad grades killed jobs
Too fast, two crashes, two die
Residents praise new park's trail

Grad awarded $1K scholarship

Rev. James A. Sutton, 82, was foster parent to 148
Janet M. Trigg taught nursing care for cancer

Bush bypasses Bunning on post
Woman, 72, claims sex abuse in 1930s
Silver Grove first up
Florence advised: Un-Mall
18 N.Ky. schools fall short
NRA gives endorsement to Geoff Davis
Bunning addresses business group
Louisville GOP leader faces criticism on poll watchers
Human Rights Commission has acting director
Bunning pressed on stem cells