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Lambert K.F.,Harvard University | Evers D.C.,BioDiversity Research Institute | King S.L.,New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission | Selin N.E.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Environmental Research | Year: 2012

Mercury is a global pollutant and presents policy challenges at local, regional, and global scales. Mercury poses risks to the health of people, fish, and wildlife exposed to elevated levels of mercury, most commonly from the consumption of methylmercury in marine and estuarine fish. The patchwork of current mercury abatement efforts limits the effectiveness of national and multi-national policies. This paper provides an overview of the major policy challenges and opportunities related to mercury in coastal and marine environments, and highlights science and policy linkages of the past several decades. The U.S. policy examples explored here point to the need for a full life cycle approach to mercury policy with a focus on source reduction and increased attention to: (1) the transboundary movement of mercury in air, water, and biota; (2) the coordination of policy efforts across multiple environmental media; (3) the cross-cutting issues related to pollutant interactions, mitigation of legacy sources, and adaptation to elevated mercury via improved communication efforts; and (4) the integration of recent research on human and ecological health effects into benefits analyses for regulatory purposes. Stronger science and policy integration will benefit national and international efforts to prevent, control, and minimize exposure to methylmercury. © 2012 Elsevier Inc. Source

Smith A.J.,NY Environmental Conservation | Tran C.P.,New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission | Tran C.P.,New York University
Journal of the North American Benthological Society | Year: 2010

Cultural eutrophication of surface waters has become a major source of water-quality impairment throughout the US. In response, the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has devised a national strategy for the development of regional nutrient criteria. Our study is part of New York State's effort to revise its narrative nutrient standard for N and P and is based on the USEPA's recommended weight-of-evidence approach. The objective of our investigation was to identify nutrient thresholds based on a final weighted average of results from percentile analysis, nonparametric deviance reduction (changepoint), and cluster analysis. The thresholds were determined from shifts in biological community structure (benthic macroinvertebrate and diatom) related to water-column nutrient data from 40 large river sites throughout New York State. USEPA's percentile analysis yielded possible criteria of 0.023 mg total P (TP)/L, 0.51 mg total N (TN)/L, 0.16 mg NO3-N /L, and 2.4 mg chlorophyll a (chl a)/m3. Threshold responses in benthic macroinvertebrate metrics at the 50th percentile occurred at concentrations between 0.009 and 0.07 mg TP/L, 0.41 and 1.2 mg TN/L, 0.18 and 0.55 mg NO3-N/L, and 2.1 mg chl a/m3. Cluster analysis yielded 3 groups of sites based on macroinvertebrate and diatom taxa. The median nutrient values of the medium-nutrient-condition site clusters were used to set criteria for TP and TN. For site clusters based on macroinvertebrate data these values were 0.037 mg TP/L and 0.68 mg TN/L. For clusters based on diatom data these were 0.037 mg TP/L and 0.78 mg TN/L. Based on the weight-of-evidence approach and results from all 3 methods, the proposed guidance values for nutrients in large rivers are 0.03 mg TP/L, 0.7 mg TN/L, 0.3 mg NO 3-N/L, and 2.2 mg chl a/m3. These values are similar to those derived by others and provide meaningful nutrient endpoints that would be protective of aquatic life in large rivers. © 2010 The North American Benthological Society. Source

Shanley J.B.,U.S. Geological Survey | Moore R.,U.S. Geological Survey | Smith R.A.,U.S. Geological Survey | Miller E.K.,Ecosystems Research Group Ltd. | And 12 more authors.
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2012

MERGANSER (MERcury Geo-spatial AssessmeNtS for the New England Region) is an empirical least-squares multiple regression model using mercury (Hg) deposition and readily obtainable lake and watershed features to predict fish (fillet) and common loon (blood) Hg in New England lakes. We modeled lakes larger than 8 ha (4404 lakes), using 3470 fish (12 species) and 253 loon Hg concentrations from 420 lakes. MERGANSER predictor variables included Hg deposition, watershed alkalinity, percent wetlands, percent forest canopy, percent agriculture, drainage area, population density, mean annual air temperature, and watershed slope. The model returns fish or loon Hg for user-entered species and fish length. MERGANSER explained 63% of the variance in fish and loon Hg concentrations. MERGANSER predicted that 32-cm smallmouth bass had a median Hg concentration of 0.53 μg g -1 (root-mean-square error 0.27 μg g -1) and exceeded EPA's recommended fish Hg criterion of 0.3 μg g -1 in 90% of New England lakes. Common loon had a median Hg concentration of 1.07 μg g -1 and was in the moderate or higher risk category of >1 μg g -1 Hg in 58% of New England lakes. MERGANSER can be applied to target fish advisories to specific unmonitored lakes, and for scenario evaluation, such as the effect of changes in Hg deposition, land use, or warmer climate on fish and loon mercury. © 2012 American Chemical Society. Source

Bried J.T.,Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission | Bried J.T.,Oklahoma State University | Strout K.L.,New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission | Portante T.,New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission
Northeastern Naturalist | Year: 2012

The floristic quality index is a widely used method for ecological condition assessments in the United States. The foundation of the index is the conservatism concept, which estimates a species' ecological sensitivity or propensity to occur in areas least altered by humans. Plant species are assigned coefficients of conservatism (CoC) where ruderal and exotic species receive the lowest scores, competitors and matrix species intermediate scores, and remnant-dependent species the highest scores. The method has spread to over half of the United States, but New York and New England still lack CoC coverage. With funding from the Environmental Protection Agency and using nine of the region's most experienced botanists, an effort was undertaken to select CoC for the complete vascular flora of each New England state and New York State. Frequency distributions and rank correlations of CoC varied widely among states, except that each flora contained a large proportion of exotic species. Few taxa were scored with low confidence, although CoC at the extreme ends of the scale tended to be scored with higher confidence than more intermediate CoC. Differences in mean CoC and other summary measures for two botanists working independently on the same state indicate estimator bias in the ranking process, and calls for additional expert opinions, more careful instruction, and calibration of botanists, or the use of objective scoring methods. Source

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