Reducing mercury pollution entering lakes lowers how much harmful mercury is found in freshwater fish destined for consumers’ plates, according to a study by UMCES Associate Research Professor Andrew Heyes and colleagues. These findings, recently published in the high-profile journal Nature, mark the culmination of a 15-year research study and highlight an important benefit of existing and new policies around the globe that seek to curb how much mercury ends up in our environment.
The study found that fish populations were able to recover from mercury much quicker than previously understood, which suggests that curbing mercury pollution through policy initiatives will have a rapid and tangible benefit regarding the quality of fish we consume. However, Maryland residents shouldn’t expect instantaneous results from policy actions. Heyes cautions that “the rate of response is not known because there is a time lag between emission reductions and reductions in mercury deposition.”
Since joining CBL’s faculty in 2006, Heyes has continued to develop his extensive experience in organic and inorganic chemistry. In 2009, after his appointment as Director of the Organics Analytical Laboratory, Heyes began examining legacy organic contaminants, such as PCBs and PAHs, in and around the Chesapeake Bay. More recently, Heyes’ work has involved detecting and studying the behavior of newly identified organic compounds associated with human activity, such as Disinfection Byproducts and Personal Care Products. He hopes to expand this research into contaminants of emerging concern by studying the fate of perfluorinated compounds (PFAS) in the Chesapeake Bay.