Less mercury in the environment since tougher emissions rules enacted

As acting Environmental Protection Agency administrator Andrew Wheeler—a former coal lobbyist—weighs rolling back the 2011 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, scientists are touting the benefits that the tougher emissions regulations have had for the environment.

Mercury has declined significantly in the air, water, and soil, and in U.S. freshwater and Atlantic Ocean fisheries, according to experts quoted in a December 17, 2018 Bangor Daily News article.

Mercury is a neurotoxin that can be harmful to children and developing fetuses, which has prompted warnings around fish consumption—especially for larger varieties higher up the food chain like shark and swordfish.

Two Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health faculty members told the Bangor Daily News that weakening the rules could impede progress.

Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard Chan School, said that he worried that higher levels of mercury in the environment would make even seafood lower down the food chain too unsafe for pregnant women and others to eat.

Elsie Sunderland, professor of environmental science and engineering in the Department of Environmental Health, noted that the health benefits from less mercury in the environment are good for the economy.

Read the Bangor Daily News article: New England states fear increased mercury contamination as EPA considers weakening rules

Learn more

Mercury Matters 2018: A Science Brief for Journalists and Policymakers (Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment)

Pregnant women may get too much mercury by following U.S. seafood advice (Harvard Chan School news)

Is it okay to eat fish every day? (Harvard Chan School news)