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E-M:/ Warnings for Mercury in Fish Blanket State's Waters

------------------------------------------------------------------------- Enviro-Mich message from Jason Barbose ------------------------------------------------------------------------- For a copy of PIRGIM's report, "Fishing for Trouble,"  go to our website, www.pirgim.org.

Warnings for Mercury in Fish Blanket State’s Waters

Mercury Reduction Stands to Bolster Michigan’s $800 Million Recreational Fishing Industry


Wolverine Lake, MichiganMichigan issues warnings against eating fish due to mercury contamination covering 887,019 acres (100%) of its lakes and all 2,199 miles of Great Lakes coastline in 2003, according to a new Clear the Air report released today by PIRGIM.  The report comes as Governor Granholm considers policies that could dramatically reduce toxic mercury in our state’s waterways.


“PIRGIM’s analysis finds that mercury contamination is a danger at many of Michigan’s favorite fishing spots,” said Jason Barbose, PIRGIM Field Organizer.  “Mercury puts public health at risk, threatens recreational fishing, and leaves Michiganders fishing for trouble.”


Mercury contamination is a threat to recreational fishing.  In 2001, Michigan anglers spent $838,558,000 on recreational fishing.  Michigan ranks 9th in the country for money spent on recreational fishing.  Chad Cranney, owner of Cast and Blast Outfitters said, “My business relies on clean lakes.  It’s important to clean up mercury because people shouldn’t have to worry about pollution when they go fishing.” 


Power plants are the nation’s single largest source of mercury pollution, contributing 41 percent of U.S. mercury emissions.  Michigan’s power plants emitted 2,589 lbs. of mercury in 2002.  The Detroit Edison Monroe power plant is the highest emitting plant in the state, having spewed 618 lbs. of mercury in 2002.

State health departments issue fish consumption advisories to warn people to limit or avoid consumption of contaminated fish.  Mercury is a dangerous toxic metal, especially for children.  Exposure to mercury can cause attention and language deficits, impaired memory, and impaired visual and motor function in children.  Scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimate that one in six women of childbearing age in the U.S. has levels of mercury in her blood high enough to put 630,000 of the four million babies born each year at risk of health problems due to mercury exposure.


“Fishing for Trouble” analyzes 2003 state data on fish consumption advisories due to mercury contamination.  Key findings of the report include:


·        Nationwide, there were advisories issued covering more than 13.1 million acres of lakes and 767,000 miles of river.  Compared to 2002, these were increases of 67% for rivers and 6% for lakes.

·        Michigan issued warnings against eating fish due to mercury contamination covering all 887,019 lake acres and 521 miles of its rivers.

·        Michigan increased warnings against eating fish due to mercury contamination on the au Sable River and lakes in Cheboygan, St. Joseph, Emmet, Jackson, and Charlevoix counties.


PIRGIM’s report comes as Governor Jennifer Granholm has pledged to reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent.  The technology is available to reduce power plant mercury emissions by at least 90 percent by 2008.


Meanwhile, the Bush Administration prepares to finalize a highly controversial proposal that would let power plants emit six to seven times more mercury over the next decade than the Clean Air Act allows and delay meaningful reductions until 2018, at the earliest.  Moreover, the plan allows facilities to buy mercury pollution credits from facilities located far away instead of reducing their own emissions, thus increasing the risk of creating and exacerbating toxic hotspots.


PIRGIM calls on Governor Granholm to reduce mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants by 90 percent by 2010.  Additionally, PIRGIM urged the Bush administration to abandon its mercury-trading proposal and faithfully implement the Clean Air Act by finalizing a rule that reduces mercury emissions from power plants by at least 90 percent from existing levels by 2008.


“Given that the Bush Administration has decided to let polluters off the hook, it’s important Governor Granholm take action,” said Jason Barbose.  “Reducing mercury pollution means not only cleaner lakes, it means standing up for Michigan’s recreational fishing industry.”



PIRGIM is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization

Jason Barbose
PIRGIM Field Organizer

103 E. Liberty St., Suite 202
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
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