Scientists Back Collins Mercury Bill

Yesterday, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) re-introduced a bill to establish a Comprehensive National Mercury Monitoring Network. Since 2003, members of the scientific community have been calling for a national network to track mercury in the environment and are strong supporters of Collins’ bill. With fish consumption advisories in every state in the nation and scarce monitoring to track how mercury levels in the environment are changing over time, the time has come to advance this common sense legislation. The National Mercury Monitoring Network (MercNet) established by this bill would systematically track mercury in the environment to help safeguard our fisheries, protect public health, and evaluate the impact of policy decisions.

In October 2010, the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) adopted a resolution calling for comprehensive, collaborative, long-term mercury monitoring and research programs within and outside of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin. The GLC and Biodiversity Research Institute, together with the office of Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) who is sponsoring a similar House Bill, have organized a briefing on the National Mercury Monitoring Bill today, June 14, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. EDT at the Capitol Hill Visitors Center.

In a related effort, the GLC, through its U.S. EPA-funded Great Lakes Air Deposition program, is collaborating with the Biodiversity Research Institute on synthesizing the most relevant Great Lakes mercury research. A summary report is scheduled to be released in fall 2011.

Available for comment:

  • David Evers, Ph.D.
    Executive Director, Biodiversity Research Institute, Gorham, ME
    Expertise: mercury concentrations and effects in birds and other wildlife; MercNet
    Contact: 207-839-7600;
  • Charles Driscoll, Ph.D.
    University Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering,
    Syracuse University, NY
    Expertise: mercury sources and cycling in the environment; MercNet
    Contact: 315-443-3434;
  • James Wiener, Ph.D.
    Wisconsin Distinguished Professor,
    University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
    Expertise: mercury in fish and aquatic food webs; MercNet
    Contact: 608-785-6454;
  • David Gay, Ph.D.
    Program Director, National Atmospheric Deposition Program, University of Illinois
    Expertise: monitoring of mercury deposition; MercNet
    Contact: 217-244-0462;
  • Elsie Sunderland, Ph.D.
    Harvard School of Public Health,
    Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
    Expertise: human exposure and health;
    mercury cycling in the oceans
    Contact: 617-384-8832 or 617-384-8832;
  • Anna Soehl, M.S.
    Project Manager, Great Lakes Commission, Ann Arbor, MI
    Expertise: Great Lakes focus
    Contact: 734-971-9135; asoehl@glc.or


The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by James Tierney, assistant commissioner for water resources at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, is an interstate compact agency established under state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators, and agency officials from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Learn more at

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