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METAALICUS: IISD-Experimental Lakes Area Studies on Mercury
March 3, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Presenter: IISD – ELA Biologist Lee Hrenchuk
Ontario is home to more than a quarter million lakes, many of which are located far from point-sources of mercury pollution, however, many Ontario lakes have fish consumption advisories due to mercury contamination. Following emission to the air (from natural or human-caused sources), mercury is easily transported long distances in the atmosphere and may end up half a world away from where it began. For this reason, mercury pollution is a global problem, and world leaders are trying to tackle this problem together with the establishment of the Minamata Convention on Mercury. The overall goal is to reduce the release of mercury to the environment (especially to the atmosphere). With reduced emissions, it is expected that fish mercury concentrations will also decline, however, experimental evidence for this relationship is lacking. We tested this prediction at IISD Experimental Lakes Area (IISD-ELA) by adding traceable mercury to a lake and its watershed for 7 years and then followed the decline of that added mercury in the lake and food web for an additional 8 years.
This presentation will describe some of our findings from this long-term experiment and what it has taught us about mercury cycling in freshwater ecosystems.