Deposition and cycling of sulfur controls mercury accumulation in Isle Royale fish

Paul E. Drevnick, Donald E. Canfield, Patrick R. Gorski, Avery L.C. Shinneman, Daniel R. Engstrom, Derek C.G. Muir, Gerald R. Smith, Paul J. Garrison, Lisa B. Cleckner, James P. Hurley, Robert B. Noble, Ryan R. Otter, James T. Oris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Mercury contamination of fish is a global problem. Consumption of contaminated fish is the primary route of methylmercury exposure in humans and is detrimental to health. Newly mandated reductions in anthropogenic mercury emissions aim to reduce atmospheric mercury deposition and thus mercury concentrations in fish. However, factors other than mercury deposition are important for mercury bioaccumulation in fish. In the lakes of Isle Royale, U.S.A., reduced rates of sulfate deposition since the Clean Air Act of 1970 have caused mercury concentrations in fish to decline to levels that are safe for human consumption, even without a discernible decrease in mercury deposition. Therefore, reductions in anthropogenic sulfur emissions may provide a synergistic solution to the mercury problem in sulfate-limited freshwaters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7266-7272
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


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