A group of environmentalists called yesterday on state and federal officials to step up efforts to keep mercury out of Maryland's air and waterways.
The Maryland Public Interest Research Group and other environmental activists held a news conference on Federal Hill to discourage people from eating mercury-tainted fish and to attack federal legislation they say will increase mercury emissions from power plants.
PIRG's Washington office released a report arguing that the Bush administration's Clear Skies legislation, being reviewed by Congress, would allow power plants to triple mercury emissions over the next decade. The Bush administration has pushed Clear Skies as a way to encourage power plants to install more efficient technology and upgrade equipment without triggering costly environmental reviews.
The report, "Fishing for Trouble," also notes that the state has posted advisories against eating a variety of fish caught in Maryland's rivers and lakes.
The state Department of the Environment has tried to inform anglers about the tainted fish by working with local officials to post signs along waterways. It also distributes advisories with fishing licenses and posts them on its Web site (www.mde.state.md.us), according to a department spokesman.
But environmentalists said yesterday that many anglers don't have access to the Web and either don't see or ignore the few signs posted along waterways.
Health officials say that exposure to mercury, even in small doses, can cause severe neurological disorders and that pregnant women should limit their intake of tuna and other fish because of the risks of damage to their unborn children.