Airborne pollutants all up in Eastern ecosystems, says report
Every ecosystem in the eastern United States is tainted by air pollution, says a new report from The Nature Conservancy and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. The report looks at the impacts of sulfur, nitrogen, mercury, and ground-level ozone in six different habitats, and concludes that those damn pollutants are pretty much everywhere. Coauthor Dr. Tim Tear breaks it down: “Mercury contamination results in fish that are unsafe to eat. Acidification kills fish and strips nutrients from soils. Excess nitrogen pollutes estuaries, to the detriment of coastal fisheries. And ground-level ozone reduces plant growth, a threat to forestry and agriculture.” Eastern ecosystems, downwind from many large urban and industrial areas, have the highest levels of deposited air pollution — that is, pollutants whisked on the wind that eventually settle to the land — in North America. The report calls, of course, for better federal monitoring and regulation of said pollutants.