The state is bringing back its program to test fish for mercury, a heavy metal that is dangerous for human consumption. The program will be back up and running in January.
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality scaled back the program in 2008, when it ran out of funding.
Mercury comes from burning coal and other industrial activities. It gets into the air and then settles in streams and other waters, where fish absorb it.
Mercury emissions have gone down because we’re burning less coal. So DEQ assistant secretary Chance McNeely is optimistic. “We certainly hope that we will see decreases in mercury levels in fish across the state,” says McNeely. “That would be consistent with national levels of reduced mercury emissions at facilities. But we certainly cannot pre-judge what we’ll find.”
His agency will send scientists back out to the state’s lakes, bayous and coast to test fish. They will use the data to issue advisories if certain fish are not safe to eat.
One and a half million dollars from a beneficial environmental program will fund the four-year program.
Support for WWNO's Coastal Desk comes from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Coypu Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.