- Mercury (Hg) occurs naturally in the earth’s soil and is also transported in the atmosphere and deposited on the soil.
- In its organic form (methyl mercury) acts as a neurotoxin and may adversely affect the neurological development of human fetuses, infants, and young children. Mercury does not pose a cancer risk. High exposures to mercury may also affect the functions of the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system.
- Mercury accumulates in the flesh of fish and accumulates in higher concentrations in predatory fish species. It accumulates to a lesser extent in omnivorous or bottom-feeding species such as carp and catfish than in predatory species such as largemouth bass, walleye, and pike.
- Nebraska mercury air emissions
- Emitted from fossil-fired electrical generation units, incinerators, industrial boilers, foundries, portland cement plant, and electric arc furnaces.
- Reported emissions in 2004 from all sources 1,095.54 pounds (.548 tons).
- Coal-fired power plants (subject to mercury rule) emitted 895.54 pounds (.448 tons) of mercury collectively in 2004 (as reported in their annual emission inventories). Emissions from these units’ account for 82% of all Nebraska’s mercury emissions reported in 2004.
- Phase I Nebraska mercury budget- .421 tons (potential mercury emission reduction is approximately 6% from 2004 reported emissions).
- Phase II Nebraska mercury budget - .166 tons (potential mercury emission reduction is approximately 58% from 2004 reported emissions).
- Nebraska mercury fish tissue data
- Nebraska’s level of concern regarding mercury concentrations in fish tissue is .215 milligrams of mercury per kilogram of fish tissue (mg/kg).
- Currently, there are mercury fish consumption advisories in 19 lakes and 3 stream segments in Nebraska.
- Data for lakes show higher concentrations than streams due to types of fish sampled. Lake samples include walleye and largemouth bass and stream samples consist primarily of catfish and carp.
- Mercury in fish tissue has generally remained consistent since 1987.
Current Fish Tissue Advisories for Mercury in Nebraska (as of January 2006)
Birdwood Lake (South Platte Basin, 20 acres)
Box Butte Reservoir (Niobrara Basin, 1,600 acres)
Cottonwood Lake (Niobrara Basin, 34 acres)
Crystal Cove Lake (Missouri Tributaries Basin, 30 acres)
Czechland Lake (Lower Platte Basin, 85 acres)
East Hershey Lake (South Platte Basin, 20 acres)
Elkhorn River near O'Neill (Elkhorn Basin, 55 miles)
Elwood Reservoir (Middle Platte Basin, 1,330 acres)
Iron Horse Trail Lake (Nemaha Basin, 85 acres)
Liberty Cove Lake (Little Blue Basin, 36 acres)
Maskenthine Lake (Elkhorn Basin, 96 acres)
Merritt Reservoir (Niobrara Basin, 2,905 acres)
North Platte River near Melbeta (North Platte Basin, 44 miles)
North Platte River near North Platte (North Platte Basin, 6.6 miles)
Oliver Reservoir (South Platte Basin, 240 acres)
Phillips Lake (Middle Platte Basin, 143 acres)
Rockford Lake (Big Blue Basin, 150 acres)
Shell Lake (Niobrara Basin, 162 acres)
Standing Bear Lake (Missouri Tributaries Basin, 135 acres)
Wehrspann Lake (Missouri Tributaries Basin, 245 acres)
Wolf-Wildcat Lake (Big Blue Basin, 5 acres)
Zorinsky Lake (Missouri Tributaries Basin, 255 acres)
Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
1200 "N" Street, Suite 400
P.O. Box 98922
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509