Mercury in small Illinois fishes: Historical perspectives and current issues

Jeffrey M. Levengood, David J. Soucek, Christopher A. Taylor, David A. Gay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Documenting long-term trends in mercury deposition and/or accumulation is important in setting regulatory benchmarks, modeling contaminant transfer and flux, measuring success of environmental controls, and even assigning responsibility for pollution. We conducted a study to compare mercury concentrations in small fishes from "high-mercury" and "low-mercury" regions of Illinois, as well as to examine historic patterns of mercury availability using preserved fishes. Mercury concentrations were greater in four species of small fishes collected from a stream in a "high-mercury" region than in those same taxa collected from a stream in a "low-mercury" area in Illinois. Mercury concentrations in blackstripe topminnows (Fundulus notatus) declined dramatically between 1900 and 1961/2006 in the "high-mercury" stream, presumably due reductions in mercury releases from local and regional sources. Preserved fish had an apparent increase in mercury concentrations for up to 12 months, which is consistent with changes in mass and loss of proteins observed in other studies, and we recommend that recent samples be preserved for at least 12 months before comparison with older fluid-preserved material. Based on our results, further studies of mercury in small fishes in Illinois streams appear warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6485-6494
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • Coal
  • Fish
  • Fluid preservation
  • Historical trends
  • Mercury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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