Wednesday, July 27, 2011

As the fog rolled in, hundreds of scientists rolled out of bed and into the World Trade & Convention Center in downtown Halifax for the third day of the International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant. Despite the drizzly weather and early hour, the 8:30 am session was packed to the gills with standing room only!

The morning 'special session' addressed the fate of mercury in
ecosystems, from sources to consumers (S14). The eight presentations looked at global trends in mercury deposition and how those different sources (both natural and man made) influence local exposure risks.
The discussions continued with a more detailed look at regional implications for estuaries in the northeastern U.S., the Gulf coast, the Gulf of Maine, the Mediterranean and the San Francisco Bay.

Following the hard hitting science presentations, the discussion turned to more practical applications, translating toxicological and environmental data into human health risks and consumption advisories. We learned about the many complexities and challenges of creating consumption advice for at risk populations like women and children. The last presentation even mentioned the KidSafe Seafood program among their review of current seafood advisories in the U.S.!

The session concluded with a provocative discussion about where the burden lies when it comes to responsible consumption. In other words, should it be the government's responsibility to monitor/reduce contaminant levels (like mercury) and ensure sustainable fishing practices, or should the consumer be responsible for selecting healthy, environmentally friendly options? What do you think?

Click here for additional information on the session, presenters, and their affiliations.

Keep reading for more updates from the conference!

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