Press Release Apr 17, 2014

From Air to Water, National Parks Group Concerned by Increased Mercury Levels in Western National Parks

Statement by Sarah Gaines Barmeyer, Director of Conservation Programs for the National Parks Conservation Association

Background: The U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service released a new reportthis week, examining mercury levels in fish, from sampling in remote areas at 21 national parks in 10 western states, including Alaska. While 96 percent of sport fish sampled showed mercury levels at safe consumption levels, per EPA criteria, there were areas with elevated concentrations that exceed health safety standards for consumption by humans and wildlife.

“Unfortunately, mercury and other forms of pollution don’t recognize park boundaries. Even our nation’s most pristine places like our national parks are vulnerable to toxic pollution. When you visit national parks, you expect to see the best of what America has to offer, which should not include fish consumption advisories. Pollutants have a disconcerting way of traveling far from their original sources and making their way up the food chain, impacting small organisms and gradually increasing in concentration to levels that become toxic to fish as well as the humans and wildlife who consume them. All of these factors make the USGS and park service study particularly concerning.”

“In addition to being places of tremendous recreational value, our national parks are also our living laboratories; we appreciate the National Park Service and USGS embracing this value to conduct their study. The health of our national parks is directly linked to the health of the waters that surround and flow through them. The National Parks Conservation Association supports efforts to reduce mercury pollution from coal plants and other industries that contaminates our air and water.”

Click here to view the full report by the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service.


About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit

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