United States
Environmental Protection
                                                        Office of Water
June 2001
Fact Sheet
Mercury Update:  Impact on  Fish Advisories

Mercury is distributed throughout the environment from both natural sources and human activities. Methylmercury
is the main form of organic mercury found in the environment and is the form that accumulates in both fish and
human tissues. Several instances of methylmercury poisoning through consumption of contaminated food have
occurred; these resulted in central nervous system effects such as impairment of vision, motor in-coordination,
loss of feeling, and, at high doses, seizures,  very severe neurological impairment, and death. Methylmercury has
also been shown to be a developmental toxicant, causing subtle to severe neurological effects. EPA considers
there is sufficient evidence for methylmercury to be considered a developmental toxicant, and to be of concern for
potential human germ cell mutagenicity.  As  of December 2000, 41 states have issued 2,242 fish advisories for
mercury. These advisories inform the public  that concentrations of mercury have been found in local fish at levels
of public health concern. State advisories recommend either limiting or avoiding consumption of certain fish from
specific waterbodies or, in some cases, from specific waterbody types (e.g., all freshwater lakes or rivers).
 The purpose of this fact sheet is to summarize current information on sources, fate and transport, occurrence
 in human tissues, range of concentrations in fish tissue, fish advisories, fish consumption limits, toxicity, and
 regulations for mercury. The fact sheets also illustrate how this information may be used for developing fish
 consumption advisories. An electronic version of this fact sheet and fact sheets for dioxins/furans, PCBs,
 and toxaphene are available at http://www.epa.gov/OST/fish. Future revisions will be posted on the web as
 they become available.
Sources of Mercury in the Environment

Mercury is found in the environment in the metallic
form and in different inorganic and organic forms.
Most of the mercury in the atmosphere is elemental
mercury vapor and inorganic mercury; most of the
mercury in water, soil, plants, and animals is
inorganic and organic mercury (primarily methyl-

Mercury occurs naturally and is distributed
throughout the environment by both natural
processes and human activities. Solid waste
incineration and fossil fuel combustion facilities
contribute approximately 87% of the emissions of
mercury in the United States. Other sources of
mercury releases to the air include mining and
smelting, industrial processes involving the use of
mercury such as chlor-alkali production facilities
and production of cement.

Mercury is released to surface waters from naturally
occurring mercury in  rocks and soils and from
industrial activities, including pulp and paper mills,
leather tanning, electroplating, and chemical
manufacturing. Wastewater treatment facilities may
also release mercury to water. An indirect source of
mercury to surface waters is mercury in the air; it is
                               deposited from rain and other processes directly to
                               water surfaces and to soils. Mercury also may be
                               mobilized from sediments if disturbed (e.g.,
                               flooding, dredging).

                               Sources of mercury in soil include direct application
                               of fertilizers and fungicides and disposal of solid
                               waste, including batteries and thermometers, to
                               landfills. The disposal of  municipal  incinerator ash
                               in landfills and the application of sewage sludge to
                               crop land result in increased levels of mercury in
                               soil. Mercury in air may also  be deposited in soil and

                               Fate and Transport  of  Mercury

                               The global cycling of mercury is a complex process.
                               Mercury evaporates from soils and surface waters to
                               the atmosphere, is redeposited on land and surface
                               water, and then is absorbed  by soil  or sediments.
                               After redeposition  on land and water, mercury is
                               commonly volatilized back to the atmosphere as a
                               gas or as adherents to particulates.

                               Mercury exists in a number of inorganic and organic
                               forms in water. Methylmercury, the most common
                               organic form of mercury, quickly enters the aquatic
                               food chain. In most adult fish, 90% to 100% of the

mercury is methylmercury. Methylmercury is found
primarily in the fish muscle (fillets) bound to
proteins. Skinning and trimming the fish does not
significantly reduce the mercury concentration in the
fillet, nor is it removed by cooking processes.
Because moisture is lost during cooking, the
concentration of mercury after cooking is actually
higher than it is in the fresh uncooked fish.
Once released into the environment, inorganic
mercury is converted to organic mercury
(methylmercury) which is the primary form that
accumulates in fish and shellfish. Methylmercury
biomagnifies up the food chain as it is passed from
a lower food chain level to  a subsequently higher
food chain level through consumption of prey
organisms or predators. Fish at the top of the
aquatic food chain, such as pike, bass, shark and
swordfish, bioaccumulate  methylmercury
approximately 1 to 10 million times greaterthan
dissolved methylmercury concentrations found in
surrounding waters.

In 1984 and 1985, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
collected 315 composite samples of whole fish from
109 stations nationwide as part of the National
Contaminant Biomonitoring Program (NCBP). The
maximum, geometric mean,  and 85thpercentile
concentrations for mercury were 0.37, 0.10,  and 0.17
ppm (wet weight), respectively. An analysis of
mercury levels in tissues of bottom-feeding  and
predatory fish using the data from the NCBP study
showed that the mean mercury tissue concentration
of 0.12 ± 0.08 ppm in predatory fish species (e.g.,
trout, walleye, largemouth  bass) was significantly
higher than the mean tissue concentration of 0.08 ±
0.06 ppm in bottom feeders (e.g., carp,  white sucker,
and channel catfish).

Mercury, the only metal analyzed as part of EPA's
1987 National Study of Chemical Residues in Fish
(NSCRF), was detected at 92% of 374 sites
surveyed. Maximum, arithmetic mean,  and  median
concentrations in fish tissue were 1.77, 0.26, and
0.17 ppm (wet weight), respectively. Mean mercury
concentrations in bottom feeders (whole body
samples) were generally lowerthan concentrations
for predator fish (fillet samples) (see Table 1). Most
of the higher tissue concentrations of mercury were
detected  in freshwater fish samples collected in the

In 1998, the northeast states and eastern Canadian
provinces issued their own mercury study, including
a comprehensive analysis of mercury
concentrations in a variety of freshwater sportfish
collected  from the late 1980s to 1996. Top level
predatory fish such as walleye, chain pickerel, and
large and smallmouth bass were typically found to
exhibit the highest concentrations, with mean tissue
residues greaterthan 0.5 ppm and maximum
residues exceeding 2 ppm. One largemouth bass
sample was found to contain 8.94 ppm of mercury,
while a  smallmouth  bass sampled contained 5
ppm. Table 2 summarizes the range and the mean
concentrations found in eight species of sportfish

Table 3  provides national ranges and mean
concentrations for several species of freshwater fish
collected by states from the late 1980s to early 2001.
43 states have provided EPA with 90,000 records of
chemical contaminant fish tissue data. These data
are available in the online National Listing of Fish
and Wildlife Advisories (U.S. EPA 2001 b) at
    Table 1. Mean Mercury Concentrations in
                Freshwater Fisha
Bottom Feeders
White sucker
Channel catfish
Predator Fish
Largemouth bass
Smallmouth bass
Brown trout
concentration (ppmf


a EPA National Study of Chemical Residues in Fish 1987;
bConcentrations are reported on wet weight basis
Source: Bahnick et a/., 7994.

Table 2. Mercury Concentrations for Selected Fish
         Species in the Northeast



Yellow perch
Eastern chain
Lake trout
Brook trout








a Concentrations are reported on a wet weight basis.
Source: NESCAUM, 1998.

Table 3. Mercury Concentrations for Selected Fish
Species in the U.S.
Yellow perch
Lake trout
ona (ppm)








1 Concentrations
Source: NLFWA,
are reported on a wet weight basis.
Because of the higher cost of methylmercury
analysis, EPA recommends that total mercury rather
than methylmercury concentrations be determined in
state fish contaminant monitoring programs. EPA
also recommends that the assumption be made that
all mercury is present as methylmercury in order to
be most protective of human health.

Potential Sources of Exposure and
Occurrence in Human Tissues

Potential sources of human exposure to mercury
include food contaminated with mercury, inhalation of
mercury vapors in ambient air, and exposure to
mercury through dental and medical treatments.
Dietary intake is by far the dominant source of
exposure to mercury forthe general population. Fish
and other seafood products are the main source of
                                      methylmercury in the diet; studies have shown that
                                      methylmercury concentrations in fish and shellfish
                                      are approximately 1,000 to 10,000 times greater
                                      than in other foods, including cereals, potatoes,
                                      vegetables, fruits, meats, poultry, eggs, and milk.

                                      Individuals who may be exposed to higherthan
                                      average levels of methylmercury include recreational
                                      and subsistence  fishers who routinely consume
                                      large amounts of locally caught fish and
                                      subsistence hunters who routinely consume the
                                      meat and organ tissues of marine mammals.

                                      Analytical methods are available to measure
                                      mercury in blood, urine, tissue, hair, and breast milk.
                                      Fish Advisories

The states have primary responsibility for protecting
their residents from the health risks of consuming
contaminated noncommercially caught fish. They do
this by issuing consumption advisories for the
general population, including recreational and
subsistence fishers, as well as for sensitive
subpopulations (such as pregnant women/fetus,
nursing mothers and their infants, and children).
These advisories inform the public that high
concentrations of chemical contaminants, such as
mercury, have been found in local fish. The
advisories recommend either limiting or avoiding
consumption of certain fish from specific waterbodies
or, in some cases, from specific waterbody types
(such as lakes or rivers).

As of December 2000, mercury was the  chemical
contaminant responsible, at least in part, forthe
issuance of 2,242 fish consumption advisories by 41
states. Almost 79% of all advisories issued in the
United States are at least partly due to mercury
contamination in fish and shellfish. Advisories for
mercury have increased steadily, by 149% from 899
advisories in 1993 to 2,242 advisories in 2000. The
number of states that  have issued mercury
advisories also has risen steadily from 27 states in
1993 to 41 states in 2000. Advisories for mercury
increased nearly 8% from 1999 (2,073 advisories) to
2000 (2,242 advisories).

Thirteen states have issued statewide advisories for
mercury in their freshwater lakes and/or  rivers:
Connecticut, Kentucky, Indiana, Maine,
Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New
Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio,
Vermont and Wisconsin.  Another nine states
(Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine,
Mississippi, North  Carolina, and Texas)  have
statewide mercury advisories in effect for their coastal
marine waters.  Figure 1 shows the total number of
fish advisories for  mercury in each state  in 2000 (U.S.
EPA, 2001 a).

Fish Consumption Limits—EPA indicated in the
Mercury Study Report to Congress (U.S.  EPA, 1997)
that the typical U.S. consumer was not in danger of
consuming harmful levels of methylmercury from fish
and was not advised to limit fish consumption on the
basis of mercury content. This advice is appropriate
for typical consumers who eat less than 10 grams of
fish and shellfish per day with mercury
concentrations averaging between 0.1 and 0.15 ppm.
At these rates offish intake, methylmercury
exposures are considerably less than the reference
dose (RfD) of 1 x 10" mg/kg-d.  However, eating  more
fish than is typical  or eating fish that are  more
contaminated, can increase the risk to a developing
Two groups of women of childbearing age are of
concern: (1) those who eat more than 10 grams of
fish a day and (2) those who eat fish with higher
methylmercury levels. Ten grams offish is a little
over one-quarter cup of tuna per week or about one
fish sandwich per week. Based on diet surveys,
10% of women of childbearing age eat five times or
more fish than does the average consumer. If the
fish have average mercury concentrations of 0.1 to
0.15 ppm, the women's mercury exposures range
from near or slightly over the RfD to about twice the

The second group of women of concern are those
who eat fish with higher mercury concentrations
(e.g., 0.5 ppm and higher). Examples offish with
above average mercury levels are king mackerel,
various bass species, pike, swordfish, and shark.
Even women eating average amounts offish (i.e., <10
g/d) have mercury exposures near the RfD, if the
mercury concentration is 0.5 ppm.  If women eat
these fish species and their average fish intake is
between 40 and 70 grams/day (or about a quarter
cup per day), their mercury exposures would range
from three to six times the RfD. Consumers who eat
fish with 1 ppm mercury (e.g., swordfish  and shark)
at the level of 40 to 70 g/d have intakes that range
from 6 to nearly 12 times the RfD.

Some women of childbearing age in certain ethnic
groups (Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Native
Americans) eat much more fish than the general
population. Because of the higher amounts offish in
their diets, women in these ethnic groups need to
be aware of the level of mercury in the fish they eat.

The RfD is not a "bright line" between safety and
toxicity; however, there is progressively greater
concern about the likelihood of adverse effects
above this level. Consequently, people are advised
to consume fish in moderate amounts and be
aware of the amount of mercury in the fish they eat.

For some populations, such as pregnant women,
nursing mothers, and young children, some states
have issued either "no consumption" advisories or
"restricted consumption" advisories for methyl-
mercury. Additional information on calculating
specific limits for these sensitive populations is
available in EPA's Guidance for Assessing
Chemical Contaminant Data for Use in Fish
Advisories, Volume 2, Section 3 (U.S. EPA 2000).

Table 4 shows the recommended monthly fish
consumption limits for methylmercury in fish for fish
consumers based on EPA's default values for risk
assessment parameters. States may select other
scientifically defensible values for developing fish

advisories. Consumption limits have been calculated
as the number of allowable fish meals per month
based on the ranges of methylmercury in the
consumed fish tissue. The following assumptions
were used to calculate the consumption limits:

#   Consumer adult body weight of 70 kg
#   Average fish meal size of 8 oz (0.227 kg)
#   Time-averaging period of 1 mo (30.44 d)
#   EPA's reference dose for methylmercury (1x10"
    mg/kg-d) from EPA's Water Quality Criterion for
    the Protection of Human Health : Methylmercury
    (U.S. EPA, 2001c).

For example, when methylmercury levels in fish
tissue are 0.4 ppm, then two 8-oz. (uncooked weight)
meals per month can safely be consumed.

        Table 4. Monthly Fish Consumption
	Limits for Methylmercury	
 consumption limit

   Fish meals/month

    health end points

Fish tissue concentrations
    (ppm, wet weight)
       > 0.03-0.06
       > 0.06-0.08
       > 0.08-0.12
       > 0.12-0.24
       > 0.24-0.32
       > 0.32-0.48
       > 0.48-0.97
       > 0.97-1.9
a None = No consumption recommended.
NOTE: In cases where >16 meals per month are
consumed, refer to EPA's Guidance for Assessing
Chemical Contaminant Data for Use in Fish Advisories,
Volume 2, Section 3 for methods to determine safe
consumption limits.
Toxicity of Mercury

Pharmacokinetics—Methylmercury is rapidly and
nearly completely absorbed from the gastrointestinal
tract; 90% to 100% absorption is estimated. Methyl-
mercury is somewhat lipophilic, allowing it to pass
through lipid membranes of cells and facilitating its
distribution to all tissues, and it binds readily to
proteins. Methylmercury binds to amino acids in fish
muscle tissue.

The highest methylmercury levels  in humans are
generally found in the kidneys. Methylmercury in the
body is considered to be relatively stable and is only
slowly transformed to form other forms of mercury.
Methylmercury readily crosses the placental and
blood/brain barriers. Estimates for its half-life in the
human body range from 44 to more than 80 days.

Excretion of methylmercury is via the feces, urine,
and breast milk. Methylmercury is also distributed to
human hair and to the fur and feathers of wildlife;
measurement of mercury in hair and these other
tissues has served  as a useful biomonitor of
contamination levels.

Acute Toxicity—Acute high-level exposures to
methylmercury may result in  impaired central
nervous system function, kidney damage and
failure, gastro- intestinal damage, cardiovascular
collapse, shock, and death. The estimated lethal
dose is 10 to 60 mg/kg.

Chronic Toxicity—Both elemental mercury and
methylmercury produce a variety of health effects at
relatively high exposures.  While recent studies
indicate that lower dose exposure can have effects
on the cardiovascular and immune systems,
neurotoxicity is the effect of greatest concern. This is
true whether exposure  occurs to the developing
embryo orfetus during  pregnancy orto adults and
children. Human exposure to methylmercury has
generally been through consumption of
contaminated food.  Two major episodes of methyl-
mercury poisoning through fish consumption have
occurred. The first occurred in the early 1950s
among people, fish consuming domestic animals
such as cats, and wildlife living near Minamata City
on the shores of Minamata Bay, Kyushu, Japan. The
source of the methylmercury contamination was
effluent from a chemical factory that used mercury
as a catalyst and discharged wastes into the bay
where it accumulated in fish and shellfish that were
a dietary staple of this population. Average fish
consumption was reported to be in excess of 300
g/d, 20 times greater than is typical for recreational
fishers in the United States. By comparison,  about
3% to 5% of U.S. consumers routinely eat 100
grams offish per day. Among women of
childbearing age, 3% routinely eat 100 grams offish
per day.

In 1965, another methylmercury poisoning incident
occurred  in the area of Niigata, Japan. The signs
and symptoms of the disease in Niigata were
similarto those of methylmercury poisoning  in

Methylmercury poisoning also occurred in Iraq
following consumption  of seed grain that had been
treated with a fungicide containing  methylmercury.
The first outbreak occurred prior to 1960; the second
occurred in the early 1970s. In this case,  imported

mercury-treated seed grains that arrived after the
planting season were ground into flour and baked
into bread. Unlike the long-term exposures in Japan,
the epidemic of methylmercury poisoning in Iraq was
short in duration lasting approximately 6 months. The
signs and symptoms of disease in Iraq were
predominantly in the nervous system: difficulty with
peripheral vision or blindness, sensory disturbances,
incoordination, impairment of walking, and slurred
speech. Both children and adults were affected.
Some infants born to mothers who had consumed
methylmercury contaminated grain (particularly
during the second trimester of pregnancy) showed
nervous system damage even though the mother
was only slightly affected or asymptomatic.

Three recent epidemiology studies in the Seychelles
Islands, New Zealand, and the Faroe Islands were
designed to evaluate childhood development and
neurotoxicity in relation to fetal exposures to
methylmercury in fish-consuming populations.
Prenatal methylmercury exposures in these three
populations were within the range of some U.S.
population exposures. No adverse effects were
reported from the Seychelles Islands study, but
children in the Faroe Islands exhibited subtle dose-
related deficits  at 7 years of age.  These effects
include abnormalities in memory, attention, and
language. In the New Zealand prospective study,
children at 4 and 6 years of age exhibited deficiencies
in a number of  neuropsychological tests.

    In addition to the three large epidemiological
studies, studies on both adults and children were
conducted in the Amazon; Ecuador; French Guiana;
Madeira;  Mancora, Peru; northern Quebec; and
Germany. Effects of methylmercury on the nervous
system were reported in all but the Peruvian

There has been considerable discussion within the
scientific community regarding the level of exposure
to methylmercury that is likely to be without an
appreciable risk of deleterious health effects during a
lifetime. In 1999, the Congress directed EPA to
contract with the National Research  Council (NRC) of
the National Academy of Sciences to evaluate the
body of data on the health effects of methylmercury.
NRC published their report, Toxicological Effects of
Methylmercury, in 2000. EPA generally concurred
with the NRC findings and recommendations and
used them in determining the EPA RfD for
methylmercury. EPA chose to base the RfD on data
from the Faroes study. The Seychelles study has no
findings of effects associated with methylmercury
exposure, and thus is not the best choice for a public
health protective risk estimate. While the New
Zealand study does show mercury-related effects it
relatively small by comparison to the other two.
Benchmark dose analysis was chosen as the most
appropriate method of quantifying the dose-effect
relationship. This lower 95% limit (BMDL) on a 5%
effect level obtained by applying a K power model (K
•  1) to Faroese dose-response data based on
mercury in cord blood. It was found that several
endpoints are sensitive measures of methylmercury
effects in the Faroese children. The BMDLs and
corresponding estimates of ingested methylmercury
are within a very small range and cluster around a
level of 1 • g/kg bw/day.  Rather than choosing a
single measure for the RfD critical endpoint, EPA
considers that this RfD is based on several scores
which are indications  of neuropsychological
processes related to the ability of a child to learn
and process information. An uncertainty factor of 10
was applied.  This included a factor of 3 for
pharmacokinetic variability and uncertainty; one area
of pharmacokinetic  uncertainty was introduced with
the assumption of equivalent cord blood and
maternal blood mercury levels. An additional factor
of 3 addressed pharmacokinetic variability and
uncertainty.  Other areas of concern include inability
to quantify possible long-term sequelae for
neurotoxic effects, questions as to the possibility of
observing adverse impacts (such as cardiovascular
effects) below the BMDL, and lack of a two-
generation reproductive effects assay.

Developmental Toxicity—Data are available on
developmental effects in rats, mice, guinea pigs,
hamsters, and monkeys. Also, convincing data from
a number of human studies (i.e.,  Minamata, Iraq,
New Zealand, and the Faroe Islands) indicate that
methylmercury causes subtle to severe neurologic
effects depending on  dose and individual
susceptibility. EPA considers methylmercury to have
sufficient human and  animal data to be classified  as
a developmental toxicant.

Methylmercury accumulates in body tissue;
consequently, maternal exposure occurring prior to
pregnancy can contribute to the overall maternal
body burden and  result in exposure to the
developing fetus. In addition, infants may be
exposed to methyl-mercury through breast milk.
Therefore, it is advisable to reduce methylmercury
exposure to women with childbearing potential to
reduce overall body burden.

Mutagenicity and Reproductive Effects - Methyl-
mercury appears to be clastogenic but not to be a
point mutagen; that is, mercury causes
chromosome damage but not small heritable
changes in DNA.
EPA has classified methylmercury as being of high
concern for potential human germ cell mutagenicity.
The absence of positive results in a heritable
mutagenicity assay keeps methylmercury from

being included under the highest level of concern.
The data on mutagenicity are not sufficient, however,
to permit estimation of the amount of methylmercury
that would cause a measurable mutagenic effect in
the human population. There is no two-generation
study of reproductive effects, but shorter term studies
in rodents, guinea pigs and monkeys have reported
observations consistent with reproductive deficits.

Carcinogenicity - Three human studies have been
identified that examined the relationship between
methylmercury exposure and cancer. There was no
persuasive evidence of increased carcinogenicity
attributable to methylmercury exposure in any of
these studies. Interpretation of these studies was
limited by poor study design and incomplete
descriptions of methodology and/or results.
Experimental animal data suggest that methyl-
mercury may be tumorigenic in animals. Chronic
dietary exposures of mice to methylmercury resulted
in significant increases in the incidences of kidney
tumors in males but not in females. The tumors were
seen only at toxic doses of methylmercury. EPA has
found methylmercury to have inadequate data in
humans and limited evidence  in animals.

All of the carcinogenic effects in animals were
observed in the presence of profound damage to the
kidneys. Tumors may be formed as a consequence
of repair in the damaged organs. Evidence points to a
mode of action for methylmercury carcinogenicity that
operates at high doses certain to produce other types
of toxicity in humans. Given the levels of exposure
most likely to occur in the U.S.  population, even
among consumers of large amounts offish, methyl-
mercury is not likely to present a carcinogenic risk.
EPA has not calculated quantitative carcinogenic risk
values for methylmercury.
         Summary of EPA Health Benchmarks
  #   Chronic Toxicity—Reference Dose:
      1x10" mg/kg-d (U.S. EPA, 2001)
  #   Carcinogenicity:Not likely to be human
      carcinogen under conditions of exposure
Special Susceptibilities—The developing fetus is
thought to be at particular risk of neurotoxic effects
from methylmercury exposure. Data on children
exposed only after birth are insufficient to determine
if this group has increased susceptibility to the
adverse central nervous system effects of
methylmercury. Children are considered to be at
increased risk of methylmercury exposure by virtue
of their greater food consumption as a percentage of
body weight (mg food/kg body weight) compared to
adult exposures.  Additional studies indicate that
aging populations may be particularly susceptible to
effects  of mercury exposure.

Interactive Effects—Potassium dichromate and
atrazine may increase the toxicity of mercury,
although these effects have been noted only with
metallic and inorganic mercury. Ethanol  increases
the toxicity of methylmercury in experimental
animals. Vitamins D and E, thiol compounds,
selenium, copper, and possibly zinc are
antagonistic to the toxic effects of mercury.

Critical Data Gaps—Additional data are needed on
the exposure levels at which humans experience
subtle,  but persistent, adverse neurological effects.
Data on immunologic effects and cardiovascular
effects  are not sufficient for evaluation of low-dose
methylmercury toxicity.
                                Figure 1: Mercury Advisories for 2000

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EPA Regulations and Advisories

#   Maximum Contaminant Level inorganic mercury in drinking water = 0.002 mg/L

#   Toxic Criteria for those States Not Complying with CWA Section 303(c)(2)(B) - criterion
    concentration for priority toxic pollutants:
    -   Freshwater: maximum = 1.4 • g/L, continuous = 0.77 • g/L
    S   Saltwater:  maximum = 1.80 • g/L, continuous = 0.94 • g/L
    -   Human health consumption of organisms = 0.3 mg/kg methylmercury fish tissue (wet

#   Water Quality Guidance for the Great Lakes System—protection of aquatic life in ambient
    -   acute water quality criteria for mercury total recoverable: maximum = 1.694 • g/L
    -   chronic water quality criteria for mercury total recoverable: continuous = 0.908 • g/L
        water quality criteria for protection of human health, drinking water and nondrinking
        water: maximum = 1.8 x 10~3 • g/L
        water quality criteria for protection of human health (mercury including methylmercury) =

#   Listed as a hazardous air pollutant under Section  112 of the Clean Air Act

#   Emissions from mercury ore processing facilities  and mercury chlor-alkali plants = 2,300 g
    maximum/24 h

#   Emissions from sludge incineration plants, sludge drying plants, or a combination of these
    that process wastewater treatment plant sludge = 3,200 g maximum/24 h

#   Ban of phenylmercuric acetate as a fungicide in interior and exterior latex paints

#   Reportable quantities: Mercury, mercuric cyanide  = 1 Ib; mercuric nitrate, mercuric sulfate,
    mercuric thiocyanate, mercurous nitrate, mercury fulminate = 10 Ib; phenylmercury acetate
    = 100lb.

#   Listed as a hazardous substance: Mercuric cyanide, mercuric nitrate, mercuric sulfate,
    mercuric thiocyanate, mercurous nitrate

#   Reporting threshold for Toxic Release Inventory (proposed) = 10 Ib

Sources of Information

Bahnick, D., C. Sauer, B. Butterworth, and D.W.
Kuehl. 1994. A national study of mercury
contamination in fish IV: Analytical methods and
results. Chemosphere 29(3):537-547.

Kidwell, J.M., LJ. Phillips, and G.F. Birchard. 1995.
Comparative analyses of contaminant levels in
bottom feeding and predatory fish using the National
Contaminant Biomonitoring Program Data. Bulletin
of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
1999. Scientific Issues Relevant to Assessment of
Health Effects from Exposure to Methylmercury. U. S.
Department of Health and Human Services, Public
Health Service, Research Triangle Park, NC.

NESCAUM (Northeast States for Coordinated Air
Use Management). 1998. Northeast States and
Eastern Canadian Provinces Mercury Study. A
Framework for Action. Boston,  Massachusetts.

Porcella, D.B. 1994. Mercury in the Environment:
Biogeochemistry. In: Watras, C. J., Huckabee, J. W.,
eds., Lewis Publishers. Mercury Pollution
Integration and Synthesis,  Boca Raton, Florida. 3-

Schmitt, C. J., and W. G. Brumbaugh. 1990. National
Contaminant Biomonitoring Program:
Concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead,
mercury, selenium, and zinc in U.S. freshwater fish,
1978-1984. Archives of Environmental
Contamination and Toxicololgy. 19:731-747.

U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). 1997.
Mercury Study Report to Congress. Office of Air
Quality Planning and Standards and Office of
Research and Development, Washington, DC.

 U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). 2000.
Guidance for Assessing Chemical Contaminant
Data for Use in Fish Advisories. Volume 2, 3rd
edition. Risk Assessment and Fish Consumption
Limits. EPA 823-B-00-008. Office of Water,
Washington, DC.
U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). 2001 a.
Fact Sheet: Update: National Listing of Fish and
Wildlife Advisories. EPA-823-F-01-010. Office of
Water, Washington, DC.

U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). 2001 b.
National Listing of Fish and Wildlife Advisories
(NLFWA).  Office of Water, Washington, DC.

U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). 2001 c.
Water Quality Criterion for the Protection of Human
Health : Methylmercury. EPA-823-R-01-001. Office
of Water, Washington DC.
  For more information about the National
  Fish and Wildlife Contamination Program,

                 Jeffrey Bigler
      U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency
        Office of Science and Technology
        1200Pennsylvania Ave NW(4305)
            Washington, DC 20460

              202 260-9830 (fax)

  Additional information regarding
  contaminants in fish and health risks is
  available from the following Internet site: