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Mercury in stream ecosystems -- New studies initiated by the U.S. Geological Survey

October 1, 2004

Mercury can adversely affect humans and wildlife through consumption of contaminated fish, particularly by sensitive individuals, such as children and women of childbearing age. Mercury is currently the leading cause of impairment in the Nation’s estuaries and lakes and was cited in nearly 80 percent of fish-consumption advisories (2,242 of 2,838) reported by states in 2000. The geographic extent of mercury advisories covers more than 10 million acres of lakes and more than 400,000 stream miles—increases of about 7 and 48 percent, respectively, over advisories reported in 1998 (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2002a).