Pre-Forum Session: Understanding mercury contamination of the lake

Dr. David P. Krabbenhoft – Keynote

In 2003, work done by USGS and the US Fish & Wildlife Service with water and sediment samples from the deepest part of the Great Salt Lake revealed the highest levels of methyl-mercury ever detected in the United States. Subsequently, fish tissue samples from around the state and tissue samples from waterfowl that feed and over winter on Great Salt Lake were also found to have extremely high concentrations of methyl-mercury.

The USGS has characterized Great Salt Lake as a mercury methylation “factory” because of its huge surface, its salts and the bacteria that act on elemental mercury from atmospheric emissions.

“We need to initiate a systematic study here to understand what’s going on.”
-John Whitehead, Chair Utah Mercury Work Group (2005)

In 2005, the state organized the Utah Mercury Work Group to coordinate and collaborate mercury studies and investigations ongoing in Utah, and determine what actions need to be taken to address this issue.

Visit Mercury Information for the State of Utah

Join FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake, government agencies and the scientists who have been investigating mercury pollution in our environment for a full day program about mercury and what we know now.

The program is free to the public.

Mercury by the numbers –

  • Utah was the first state with consumption advisories for waterfowl.
  • The Utah Department of Health,  Division of Water Quality, and the Division of Wildlife Resources have jointly issued 18 fish consumption advisories statewide, eight at river locations and eleven at lakes and reservoirs.
  • 2,566 fish have been tested for mercury from 195 river sites and 90 lake locations.

Utah Division of Water Quality

 Posted by at 4:54 am