Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mercury-On-Hudson: Environmental Action Works

Mercury, besides its practicality in older thermostats, is a toxin that you do not want to mess with. Coal-fired power plants are largely responsible for emitting it into the air, before it falls down to the ground and into our water supply. For decades, fish tainted with mercury have been slowly poisoning us (if you eat too much of course, our bodies can detoxify small amounts at a time) without any kind of labels, since the fish certainly won't tell you, you can forget about the fisherman. The good news in all of this is that we've known about the problem for a while, and environmental groups have been fighting to clean up mercury emitters. In New York, NYPIRG has been instrumental in cleaning the Hudson river, and guess what?

It works:

STONY BROOK, N.Y., July 23, 2008 — Jeffrey S. Levinton, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University and the senior author of the study done with Sharon T. Pochron, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stony Brook University, found that mercury in common Hudson River fish including striped bass, yellow perch, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and carp, has declined strongly over the past three decades. The finding was reported in the August issue of the journal /Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry*. Levinton’s research indicates that the trends are in line with the remarkable recovery that the Hudson River has experienced over the past few decades, now that activist groups, government officials and industry are beginning to cooperate to help clean up the river system.

Isn't that amazing, a little lot of hard work can accomplish great things if we are willing to stay committed to the cause. Power plants upstate were certainly not going to do this themselves, simply because it wasn't profitable. It took impassioned activism to convince state authorities to regulate the polluters, and that is exactly what happened.