Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Learn more about mercury dangers

ICL-sponsored meeting set for Thursday, Dec. 13, in Hailey

Express Staff Writer

Mercury contamination in southern Idaho bodies of water like Silver Creek, above, will be discussed at a public meeting in Hailey Thursday, Dec. 13. Photo by Mountain Express

The public health and environmental risks associated with mercury contamination in southern Idaho will be the topic of discussion at a public meeting later this week.

The meeting, scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 13, will take place in the Hailey Public Library reference room. The library is located at 7 West Croy St. in Hailey.

The meeting is sponsored by the Boise-based conservation organization Idaho Conservation League.

Leading the discussion will be Justin Hayes, program director for the ICL. Topics discussed during the meeting will include who is polluting Idaho's streams, rivers and lakes and what is being done to protect the state's fisheries and young children, a news release from the group states.

The meeting follows the recent announcement by staff with the Idaho chapter of The Nature Conservancy that Silver Creek in southern Blaine County is contaminated by high levels of mercury, which is considered especially unhealthy for pregnant women and children.

The renowned fishery is a popular destination for local and traveling fly-fishing enthusiasts as well as bird watchers and other outdoor recreationists.

The news that Silver Creek is contaminated by mercury is based on a sampling of 20 brown trout caught in the creek. The Nature Conservancy paid for the survey, which was carried out by the U.S. Geological Survey last June.

According to the preliminary results of the study, the levels of mercury found in the brown trout exceed the amount considered safe for human consumption.

If the results hold up, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare will likely release a fish advisory cautioning people against eating fish from Silver Creek, department Program Manager Jim Vannoy said in November.

The department of Health and Welfare has already released similar fish advisories for other bodies of water in southern Idaho, including Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir, which test results have shown to possess the highest known levels of mercury contamination in the state.

For additional information about the meeting, contact Justin Hayes at (208) 345-6933, ext. 24.

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