Great Lakes contaminants change with public use of materials

By on November 19, 2012
Ring-bill gulls (Credit: Jason Finch, via Wikimedia Commons)

A combination of studies on Great Lakes wildlife and air quality revealed that the landscape for contaminants changed with societal use of hazardous materials, according to Environmental Health News.

Pollutants banned by the federal government wane as the lakes slowly cleanse themselves. Polychlorinated biphenyls in fish dropped by almost 50 percent in lakes Michigan, Ontario and Huron from 1999 to 2009.

Meanwhile, flame retardant materials increased in Great Lakes sediments. A study on ring-bill gulls at Lake Ontario found 89 percent of the birds had flame retardants in their livers. Air monitoring of the shores Lake Erie around Cleveland and Lake Michigan around Chicago detected flame retardants as well.

The EPA designated 43 areas of concern in the Great lakes that had serious ecological damage. Officials only removed four areas from the list since it was created in 1987. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds more than 100 contaminant cleanup projects.

Image: Ring-bill gulls (Credit: Jason Finch, via Wikimedia Commons)

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