Join KAVAS & Indiana Rivers To Tell ORSANCO No More Mercury in the Ohio River!
Please Contact ORSANCO’s Commissioners Today and Demand No More Mercury in the Ohio River! VOTE NO on the Proposal to Eliminate the Prohibition on Mixing Zones For Mercury and all BCCs in the Pollution Control Standards for the Ohio River!
Go to Indiana Rivers website to easily submit your comments to ORSANCO.
The Ohio River is the largest tributary in the Mississippi River Basin flyway. The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) is proposing to completely eliminate the prohibition on mixing zones (areas where health standards are permitted to be exceeded to dilute pollution) for mercury and all bio-accumulative chemicals of concern (BCCs) in the Pollution Control Standards for the Ohio River. Fish-eating bird species and their offspring, as well as sensitive Ohio River basin residents, deserve protection from toxic discharges of mercury and all BCCs in toxic amounts to the environment.
Mercury (both organic and inorganic) is a persistent, bio-accumulative chemical of concern (BCCs) that damages neurological, developmental, and reproductive systems of all exposed organisms especially in fish-eating bird species and sensitive human populations. Numerous studies of reproductive failures in multiple fish-eating bird species have detected elevated mercury concentration levels in eggs that failed to hatch, primarily due to eggshell thinning. Mercury levels in hatchlings continue to accumulate when ingesting organisms with high mercury concentrations. Hatchlings are at increasing risk of developing physical and neurological abnormalities such as weakness, incoordination and walking or flying disabilities that are necessary for survival while nesting and after fledging as mercury builds up in the chick’s brain and body.
ORSANCO collected water column and fish tissue sampling data reveals over 800 miles of the Ohio River are currently close to or exceeding aquatic life and human health standards for mercury. The concentration of mercury in organisms can reach levels 10,000 times higher than the level in the water through biomagnification. Scientific findings from the last decade indicate that the toxic effects of mercury may be occurring at much lower concentrations than previously believed. Preventing the exposure to mercury and all BCCs is required to control toxic neurological, developmental, and reproductive impairments in a wide array of fish-eating bird species and sensitive human populations.
Humans are primarily exposed to mercury by eating fish and shellfish containing mercury from polluted waters. At greatest risk are women of childbearing age, pregnant women and their developing fetuses, infants, and children who consume fish containing mercury ‐ causing impairment to cognitive thinking, memory, attention, language, motor, and visual skill development.
A 2009 study of Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data concluded approximately one in 40 women of childbearing age have mercury in their blood above 5.8 micrograms per liter, a level dangerous to a developing fetus. More recent testing indicates that mercury concentrates in the umbilical cord blood and mercury levels as low as 3.4 micrograms per liter of a mother’s blood pose increasing risk of developmental impairment of unborn babies. According to the latest testing data, approximately one in 13 women of childbearing age in the United States has mercury in her blood at or above this level.
Every state bordering the Ohio River issues annual fish consumption advisories to inform the public of the possible risks from eating some fish due to elevated levels of mercury and other BCCs. Despite these warnings, 13 million pounds per year of Ohio River fish are consumed through recreation and subsistence fishing according to a “Consumption of Freshwater Fish” survey conducted for ORSANCO in 2009. A 2012 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ study concluded an additional 1.4 million pounds per year of Ohio River fish are commercially harvested and distributed to the general public.
ORSANCO must maintain and enforce the prohibition on mixing zones for mercury and other BCCs to protect fish-eating bird species and their offspring, biodiversity, and human health!