The Persistence of Mercury
Anyone who’s ever broken an old-style thermometer knows it’s tough to clean up mercury, but the state of Washington is undeterred. The state’s Ecology Department has created the nation’s only program to battle persistent bioaccumulative toxins, or PBTs, and mercury will be the first target. Found in substances ranging from eye makeup to industrial waste to contaminated seafood, mercury can cause neurological problems and birth defects. Nearly 3,700 pounds of mercury from industrial sites are known to have contaminated air, land, and water in Washington last year, and untold additional pounds went unreported.