Mercury in the Susquehanna

Group members are studying the distribution of mercury within the Susquehanna River. There is no known biological system that needs mercury, however, mercury is present in the River and watershed. This is a concern because high concentrations of mercury can cause significant damage to neurological functions and kidneys.

Due to bioaccumulation (the build up of mercury due to repetitive exposure) researchers prefer to test organisms rather than water for mercury. Using a Direct Mercury Analyzer group members are testing tissue samples from fish and small mammals to see how much mercury has accumulated. They are also looking at where in the organism the mercury is being accumulated.