While MassDEP has made enormous strides in reducing mercury emissions from facilities across the state, significant levels of the toxic heavy metal still persist in the environment - particularly in certain lakes and streams, making the fish that inhabit them less healthy to eat. Learn about agency monitoring and research initiatives, as well as Department of Public Health (DPH) advisories on eating fish taken from bodies of water across Massachusetts.
- Temporal and Spatial Trends in Freshwater Fish Tissue Mercury Concentrations Associated with Mercury Emissions Reductions - February 2014
Significant declines in toxic mercury levels were measured in Massachusetts freshwater fish monitored from 1999-2011, a period when statewide/regional mercury pollution strategies reduced mercury emission by greater than 90%. Levels in fish in the northeastern Massachusetts Merrimack Valley region decreased by 43-44%, compared to 13-19% statewide
- Massachusetts Mercury Emissions Inventory Update - December 2011
As of 2008, the most recent year for which complete data are available, mercury emissions have dropped by 91 percent across Massachusetts since the mid 1990s. Prepared by Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM),
- Fish Mercury Research Data Portal
MassDEP monitors mercury levels in the edible tissues of freshwater fish in 39 lakes across the state to track changes over time.
- Overview of Massachusetts Fish Mercury Studies
Massachusetts has been studying mercury levels in freshwater fish since the mid 1990s, focusing on regions of the state predicted to have high atmospheric deposition of mercury.
- Methods for Annual Data Reports: Fish Mercury Long Term Monitoring
MassDEP’s Office of Research and Standards started a research program on mercury in freshwater fish in 1994, which continues today. This report presents the standard methods used to compile the annual reports below.
- 2009 Annual Report: Fish Mercury Long Term Monitoring file size 2MB
- 2008 Annual Report: Fish Mercury Long Term Monitoring file size 1MB
- 2007 Annual Report: Fish Mercury Long Term Monitoring file size 1MB
- 2006 Annual Report: Fish Mercury Long Term Monitoring file size 2MB
- 2005 Annual Report: Fish Mercury Long Term Monitoring file size 1MB
- Freshwater Fish Mercury Concentrations in a Regionally High Mercury Deposition Area - December 2007
file size 1MBPublished research paper from Water, Air and Soil Pollution by Michael S. Hutcheson, C. Mark Smith, Gordon T. Wallace, Jane Rose, Barbara Eddy, James Sullivan, Oscar Pancorbo, Carol Rowan West. December 2007.
- Massachusetts Fish Tissue Mercury Studies: Investigations of Seasonal & Other Sources of Variation - 2006
file size 5MBThe study reported here examines the relative contributions to variance in fish tissue mercury concentration measurements from seasonal, reproductive and tissue hydration factors to help more efficiently design monitoring studies in the future.
- Determination of Recent Inputs of Mercury to Lakes/Ponds in the Merrimack Valley Using Sediment Cores - March 2004 file size 2MB
The objective of this study was to determine the feasibility of using isotope geochronological techniques to establish the recent history of mercury additions to a lake in a region of Massachusetts with high mercury deposition and documented high fish tissue mercury concentrations.
- Final Report: Fish Mercury Levels In Northeastern Massachusetts Lakes - January 2004
file size 1MBIn a regional report on mercury, this area of Massachusetts was predicted, on the basis of atmospheric dispersion modeling of mercury emissions sources, to have the highest levels in the Northeast.
- Long-Term Monitoring of Massachusetts Fish Tissue Mercury, 1999-2004 file size 1MB
file size 3MBDescribes the establishment of a long-term monitoring network of 14 "core" lakes in a modeled mercury deposition "hotspot" in Massachusetts to measure mercury concentration changes over time in the edible tissues of two species of freshwater fish.
- List of MassDEP Mercury Studies, 1994 -2004 file size 1MB
- Mercury Bioaccumulation in the Food Webs of Two Northeastern Massachusetts Freshwater Ponds - April 2003 An investigation of mercury partitioning in the food webs and sediments of two similar, nearby ponds.
- Fish Mercury Distribution in Massachusetts Lakes: Published Research Paper - 1999 Published research paper (Posted with permission. Copyright © SETAC, Pensacola, FL)
- Final Report: Fish Mercury Distribution in Massachusetts Lakes - May 1997 Sediment, water and three species of fish from 24 of the state's comparatively low-impact waterbodies were sampled to determine the patterns of variation in edible tissue mercury concentrations.
Fish Consumption Advisories
- Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Database of freshwater fish consumption advisories, searchable by community.
- Fish Testing Request Form
Ask for testing of fish from a specific lake, pond, river, or stream. Samples are generally tested for mercury and other metals, pesticides, and PCBs. February 1 is the annual deadline for fish testing requests.