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01-05-2007

Clarkson Scientist Will Discuss Mercury Hot Spots in North America and Suspected Causes

Thomas M. Holsen, a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Clarkson University, is one of a team of 11 independent scientists who have published two new peer-reviewed studies identifying five known and nine suspected biological mercury hot spots in northeastern North America.

Holsen and two other members of the team will present their findings at a press conference January 9 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The press event will be hosted by Hubbard Brook Research Foundation.

One of the suggestions made in the studies is that mercury emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants may be responsible, in some instances, for the elevated concentrations of mercury found in fish and wildlife. According to the research team, reservoirs with large water level fluctuations and watersheds impacted by decades of acid rain are also particularly vulnerable to mercury pollution.

In a conclusion that is sure to be controversial, the authors also state that the trading of mercury pollution as allowed in the recent U.S. EPA Clean Air Mercury Rule could perpetuate these biological mercury hotspots. The results of this study have prompted the development of new draft federal legislation aimed at tracking mercury pollution and its effects.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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