The authors studied the distribution of Hg in sediments, fish, and crayfish in a 60 km reach of the Upper Wisconsin River that formerly received Hg in discharges from pulp and paper mills. The most heavily contaminated strata of sediments were deposited during the 1950s and early 1960s and buried under subsequent deposits; however, surficial sediments remained substantially enriched at certain sites in 1981. Median concentrations of Hg in surficial sediments, adjusted for grain size, were at least 10-fold greater at the main study area than at an upstream reference site. Total concentrations exceeded 1.0 mu g g super(-1) wet weight in axial muscle tissue in only 2 of 173 fish analyzed from the study area; however, historical comparisons revealed that Hg contamination of fish (common carp Cyprinus carpio and walleye Stizostedion vitreum vitreum ) and crayfish (Orconectes ) in the river had not decreased since the early 1970s.
Additional Publication Details
Environmental fate of mercury discharged into the upper Wisconsin River