Lake fish, even with some mercury, good for your health

Capital News Service
LANSING — Eating Great Lakes fish that contain mercury may threaten your health, but the nutritional benefits may outweigh the risks, according to a new study of lake trout and lake whitefish consumption by members of Native American tribes with high rates of obesity, diabetes and other diseases. “Great Lakes fish should be considered for their nutritional importance relative to contemporary options, even when adjusting for risks of mercury toxicity,” according to the researchers from the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority’s Inter-Tribal Fisheries and Assessment Program in Sault Ste. Marie and the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. The findings come from the assessment program’s 25 years of studies of whitefish and lake trout from lakes Huron, Superior and Michigan. Authority members come from five Ottawa and Ojibwa tribes — known collectively as the Anishinaabe– in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Peninsula and represent fisheries’ interests.

Folks who eat fish tested, show high mercury levels

Capital News Service
LANSING – Health authorities in Michigan are waiting for the results of tests for elevated levels of chemicals and metals in people who eat lots of Great Lakes fish. Blood and urine from volunteers in Michigan and two other states were tested for PCBs, pesticides, mercury, lead and cadmium. Each state focused on a community. Michigan tested anglers along the Detroit River and Saginaw Bay. Minnesota tested members of the Ojibwe tribe near Lake Superior.

Utilities, environmentalists dispute timing of mercury standards

Capital News Service
LANSING – Environmental protection advocates are urging legislators to support the federal mercury and air toxic standards in the Clean Air Act, but the electric utility industry say, that would create a huge burden. The standards proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would require coal-and oil-fired electric power plants to reduce mercury and other emissions by more than 90 percent. Congressional opponents of the proposal say the standards are too costly and would force the premature closing of power plants, eliminate hundreds of jobs and threaten the supply of electricity. Hugh McDiarmid Jr, communications director of the Michigan Environmental Council, said mercury is dangerous. “Michigan’s Great Lakes are polluted with mercury.

More songbirds found with high mercury levels

Capital News Service
LASNING — Scientists are finding more Great Lakes birds with high levels of mercury in them. A recent report by the Biodiversity Research Institute says the increased levels are found particularly in songbirds that rely on insects for food. Aquatic birds still face the greatest risk for mercury exposure, said Joe Kaplan, a researcher with Common Coast Research & Conservation, a nonprofit loon research group based in Hancock. Two factors impact how mercury affects a bird, he said: the amount of mercury it’s exposed to and the bird’s sensitivity to the metal. Loons will always be exposed to more mercury than songbirds because of their fish diet, Kaplan said.

Power plant near Manistee prepares for new mercury rules

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Capital News Service
LANSING — New state mercury regulations that take effect in 2015 will bring changes at the T.E.S. Filer City power station near Manistee. According to Teresa Cooper of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), if the plant doesn’t reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent of its 1999 baseline levels, it will have three ways to meet the new requirements. It can reduce emissions to about an ounce per gigawatt-hour of electricity, which is enough to power one million 100-watt light bulbs for an hour, reduce its sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions or find ways to reduce mercury emissions in the community. The plant could qualify for the final option only if it emits less than 9 pounds of mercury per year. Dan Bishop, the public information officer for CMS Energy in Jackson, said the company is still figuring out how to comply with the new regulations.