New Research Shows Mercury Concentrations in Fish Remain Stable

OTTAWA, June 4, 2012 /CNW/ - Environment Canada scientists have published a new study showing that mercury concentrations in fish are not increasing over time. The study, Investigations of Mercury Concentrations in Walleye and Other Fish in the Athabasca River Ecosystem with Increasing Oil Sands Developments (Mercury in Fish), by Marlene S. Evans and André Talbot, will be published in the next issue of the Journal of Environmental Monitoring.

"This is an example of the type of work our scientists are undertaking to support our reliable, robust, and world class monitoring program for the oil sands," said Canada's Environment Minister Peter Kent.  "This research will help build a comprehensive, scientifically grounded understanding of baseline environmental conditions in the oil sands region in order to properly assess changes over time."

As one of the over 700 taxpayer-funded, peer-reviewed, world-class publications Environment Canada scientists produce on average each year, this study sought to verify whether mercury concentrations in fish in the Athabasca River watershed were changing over time in the oil sands region.  Scientists from Environment Canada conducted a comprehensive study of mercury trends in fish using an extensive data base from provincial, federal, and industry funded data sources.

The study is based on determinations of mercury concentrations in fish caught over 1975-2011 from the Athabasca River, Clearwater River, the Peace-Athabasca Delta, Lake Athabasca, and other surrounding lakes.  More than 1,600 fish comprising more than 630 walleye, 415 lake whitefish, 445 northern pike, and 105 lake trout samples were analyzed.

The study revealed that mercury concentrations in fish are not increasing over time.  In addition, mercury concentrations the Athabasca River ecosystem water and surface sediments are relatively low and appear stable over time at levels that are similar to concentrations observed outside the oil sands development areas in earlier decades.

The research paper can be found online at the Journal of Environment Monitoring (English only):

SOURCE Environment Canada

For further information:

Adam Sweet
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of the Environment

Media Relations
Environment Canada

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(Également offert en français)


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