A program of the Bonner Soil and Water Conservation District , the Lake Assist program provides assistanceto Bonner County residents on water quality concerns and suggestions on how to reduce pollutions to our abundant lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater.
Mercury is a naturally occuring element that is usually bound up in rocks and soils. Mercury is most used in thermometers, florescent light bulbs, and dental fillings(amalgams). Mercury is considered a significant health hazard if ingested or inhaled.
Mercury is the component in florescent bulbs that makes them more energy efficient. Mercury - once known as quicksilver - can be toxic, particularly when mercury vapors are inhaled. Metallic mercury begins to evaporate when exposed to air and can quickly fill a room with toxic vapors. Methylmercury, however, is a much more toxic compound that forms when mercury binds with organic molecules in the environment. This usually happens when mercury is released into the atmosphere through burning and settles into wetlands or streams, where it can be taken up by aquatic life.
For millions of years, some quantity of mercury has been released into the atmosphere by volcanoes and forest fires. But in the last 100 years, mercury levels in the environment have grown by 200 to 500 percent, according to EPA. Coal burning, which can have a high mercury content, are responsible for much of that additional mercury load. Coal-fired power plants are now considered to be the largest single source of mercury deposition nationally.