Special Issues of Ecotoxicology Focus on the Impact of Mercury in Songbirds, and in New York State
Fifteen new scientific papers have recently been published in an October special issue of the journal Ecotoxicology. Studies find that at least 58 songbird species show demonstrated effects from mercury. The journal’s October issue entitled, The Impact of Mercury on North American Songbirds: Effects, Trends, and Predictive Factors, presents results of field, laboratory, and museum studies—from Alaska to Maine to Puerto Rico.
In addition, a series of multi-year scientific studies that assessed the impact of mercury on air, water, fish and wildlife in New York State have also been published in the journal Ecotoxicology. This scientific collaboration, funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) through its Environmental Research Program, has resulted in 22 papers published in the Ecotoxicology’s December 2020 issue as well as two separate papers that were published in the October 2020 issue on mercury in songbirds.
The Ecotoxicology special issue on mercury in songbirds (Vol. 29, Issue 8, October 2020) is now online and can be found HERE.
The Ecotoxicology special issue on mercury in New York State (Vol. 29, Issue 10, December 2020) is now online and can be found HERE.
BRI's Science Communications
As part of our mission, BRI is dedicated to advancing environmental awareness and informing decision makers about the research that we conduct. To that end, we publish science communications pieces that highlight our research in ways that are accessible to the general reader.
These publications reach across all our programs and are made available online as well as in print. The mercury booklets we have developed are listed below. For more information or for high quality images of our research graphs, charts, and maps, please contact us.
Find more scientific literature produced by BRI researchers in our Multimedia Library.
To inform policy efforts and advance public understanding, a group of 61 scientists collaborated on producing 15 papers that describe the impacts of mercury on songbirds across the United States and Canada (Cristol and Evers 2020). This publication, The Impact of Mercury on North American Songbirds, highlights the major findings of those studies and collaborative effort.
The 15 scientific papers representing laboratory and field studies are now published in a special issue of the journal Ecotoxicology (October 2020). The papers reflect five general categories of research on mercury in songbirds: (1) effects on health and physiology; (2) temporal trends; (3) landscape variations; (4) bioindicators; and (5) migration.
BRI has also worked with partners to examine spatial and temporal trends of mercury accumulation in the environment and biota across New York State. This scientific synthesis of information on mercury in air, water, fish, and wildlife has culminated in a series of 22 papers having been recently published in a special issue of the journal Ecotoxicology (December 2020). In addition, we have published the communications booklet New York State Mercury Connections which highlights major findings of the collaborative effort.
Monitoring mercury in biota (plants and animals) provides a pathway for understanding spatial gradients, temporal trends, and environmental magnitude of concern that cannot be ascertained in air, water, or sediment. Emphasizing upper trophic level biota for monitoring ultimately provides a confident ability to asess whether the global input of anthropogenic mercury into the environment is safe or harmful to fish, wildlife and humans. Learn more in our 8-page communications booklet or download our full technical report below.
In addition, download the UN Environment Programme's summary brochure here.
This publication highlights the results of a pilot study that Biodiversity Research Institute, in collaboration with UN Environment, developed to examine and summarize the national mercury inventories of 43 countries that have completed the Minamata Initial Assessment process. This pilot study quantifies the relative contributions of sectors (ten primary source categories) to mercury emissions and releases, within a set of countries representing varied global regions and socio-economic backgrounds. Learn more in our 4-page communications booklet or download our full technical report below.
BRI’s concept for Mercury Connections provides a model that fosters research collaboration among distinguished scientists across various disciplines and regions, as well as land-use managers, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions. The research, however, is only part of the story. BRI is also committed to bringing our scientific findings to the forefront of public awareness. The Mercury Connections reports are an important and necessary tool for decision makers and regulators in the critical process of developing and regulating policy.
This report, Mercury in the Global Environment: Understanding Spatial Patterns for Biomonitoring Needs of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, presents data on mercury concentrations in marine and freshwater biota (fish, sea turtles, birds, and marine mammals) extracted from the GBMS database. Mercury concentrations from various taxa are presented and compared geographically. This report also presents mercury data relative to global fisheries capture data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Case studies take a closer look at taxon-specific patterns of mercury in biota. Two companion reports focused specifically on tuna and marine mammals further examine mercury trends in these ecologically important groups.
Together, these data can help raise awareness of potential risks and benefits of seafood consumption, and can help inform resource managers and decision makers about the species in which and the locations where mercury represents a potential risk to human health and the environment, aiding parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury during their ratification and implementation process.
Download the following brochures to learn how you can participate in global efforts to monitor mercury in cosmetics, humans, and seafood in your country, and to map ecosystem sensitivity to mercury. Each brochure outlines the sampling process and highlights how participation will help countries meet requirements of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
We have also produced the following region and country specific brochures:
Caribbean region: Skin Lightening Products and Cosmetics; People; and Seafood
Country specific, Mercury Biomonitoring in Seafood: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago
Local, Regional, and Global Biomonitoring: Understanding Mercury Exposure through Monitoring At-risk Species. Fish and wildlife provide important information on the environmental impacts of mercury pollution and potential risks related to human health. Biomonitoring is the process of assessing the health of organisms and ecosystems and tracking changes in mercury risk and exposure over time. This publication describes the who, what, how, why, and where of biomonitoring efforts as outlined in Article 19 of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which lists those organisms that should be monitored including fish, sea turtles, birds, and marine mammals. 2018
Phasing Out/Phasing Down Mercury-added Products: What to Know about Consumer and Commercial Products Outlined in the Minamata Convention. The Minamata Convention aims to reduce mercury use in products through a combination of measures. This booklet focuses on mercury-added products, as outlined in Article 4, which prohibits the manufacture, import, or export of specific mercury-added products by 2020. The Convention also requires a phase down of the use of mercury in dental amalgam. In addition, we discuss Article 11, which addresses mercury wastes. 2018
IPEN and BRI have collaborated to conduct a global mercury study in response to strong public and governmental interest in the negotiation and signing of a mercury treaty—the first global treaty on the environment in well over a decade by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The IPEN-BRI collaboration provides a rare opportunity to compile new and standardized mercury concentrations on a global basis. The Global Fish and Community Mercury Monitoring Project is the first of its kind to identify, in one collaborative effort, global biological mercury hotspots. These hotspots are of particular concern to human populations and the ecosystems on which they depend. Results are presented in the report Global Mercury Hotspots: New Evidence Reveals Mercury Contamination Regularly Exceeds Health Advisory Levels in Humans and Fish Worldwide. 2014
Mercury accumulation, previously considered a risk for aquatic ecosystems, is also found in many wildlife species living on the land. This scientific data is presented in a report published by BRI in partnership with The Nature Conservancy.
Hidden Risk: Mercury in Terrestrial Systems of the Northeast highlights BRI’s scientific findings on high levels of mercury contamination in songbirds and bats throughout 11 northeastern states. 2012
In 2011, BRI created the Center for Mercury Studies to consolidate science and policy-related projects led and conducted by BRI scientists around the world. This new publication covers the Center's projects and initiatives, ranging from global-scale monitoring of mercury in aquatic ecosystems to detailed monitoring of mercury exposure in single species and at-risk populations. It also outlines BRI's work related to the Minamata Convention on Mercury. Download the full booklet here.
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