State to shut down mercury monitors

Nice catch, kid. Just don't eat it.

  • Image via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Nice catch, kid. Just don't eat it.

More great news from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management: Seems the state agency has decided to turn off its mercury monitors around the state — most notably at the Indiana Dunes, where mercury levels in Lake Michigan are outrageously high.

As reported in the Post-Tribune, a northwest Indiana newspaper with its roots in Gary:

The cut would save the agency about $285,000 annually. But critics say it would impact the state's ability to assess whether regulation to reduce mercury pollution is working.

The Indiana Dunes monitoring station has periodically registered one of the 10 highest mercury concentrations in the nation, said Martin Risch, a hydrologist and project chief with the U.S. Geological Survey in Indianapolis.

As noted by NUVO's own, inimitable Jim Poyser in his environmental year in review, one has to wonder these days what, exactly, IDEM is managing these days. According to its own job description, IDEM job is to tackle "air, land, pollution prevention and water quality issues," and "to provide quality environmental oversight." But, in the last few years, it sometimes seems IDEM has done little more than preside over the deterioration of our natural resources and habitats.

Some highlights:

  • — According to Environment America, Indiana led the nation in toxic, industrial waste poured into waterways in 2007.
  • — Last summer, we saw a toxic algae bloom in Geist Reservoir and the White River.
  • — In 2008, the Brookings Institution found Indianapolis had the nation's second-largest per capita carbon emissions from transportation and residential energy use from among 100 metro areas.
  • — Forbes magazine ranked Indiana second-to-last on its list of greenest states in 2007

The list goes on and on.

Clearly, we should be increasing our efforts to monitor pollution in this most polluted of states, not decreasing them. An annual savings of $285,000 is a drop in the bucket when compared with the lifetime health costs associated with water pollution, as we've seen in places like New Harmony, in southern Indiana, where pollution along the Ohio river has been linked to learning disabilities in children.

Like they say at my gym, what gets measured gets improved.


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