Vampire bats may have a blood-chilling name, but they are capable of some seriously heart-warming behavior.
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Experts have described the coronavirus pandemic as the kind of crisis that will become even more likely as the planet warms. But now, researchers think that climate change may have actually played a role in the emergence of the viruses that caused both SARS and COVID-19.
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More and more Americans are retrofitting their bathrooms with high-end bidets, allowing them to enjoy cleanliness and hygiene without creating as much paper waste. Not all bidets are created equal, however, and before deciding on a particular brand, it's important to do your homework. Take a look at our comprehensive Toto bidet review, and our reviews of Tushy and Omigo, to learn more about all of their options.
Toto USA<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/TOTO-BT500B-01-Piedmont-Vertical/dp/B00084P3GO/ref=sr_1_3?crid=ZG6AGN0U9VQL&dchild=1&keywords=toto+piedmont+bidet&qid=1613591898&sprefix=toto+piedmo%2Caps%2C188&sr=8-3" target="_blank">Toto's Piedmont bidet</a> offers an elegant, classic design, and it also comes with built-in safeguards that prevent it from ever overflowing. It is available in several color options, and will look good with any contemporary bathroom design.</p><p><strong>Why buy:</strong> This is the most affordable standalone bidet in Toto's catalog. This bidet is a good option if you are remodeling your bathroom or are building a home and want to save water and paper waste from the start. Priced starting at $533, you can find it through other retailers for around $280.</p>
Toto USA<p>The <a href="https://www.amazon.com/TOTO-BT930B-01-Vertical-Cotton/dp/B0015IVUOQ/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=toto%2Blloyd%2Bbidet&qid=1613592001&sr=8-2&th=1" target="_blank">Lloyd bidet</a> has a much bolder, "skirted" design, but it also shares the Piedmont's flushing rim and integral overflow features, which keep you from ever experiencing spillage.</p><p><strong>Why buy: </strong>This is a fancier product with a more striking appearance, and is mainly suited for a larger, more formal design. It retails for a slightly higher price point: The Lloyd model starts at $780 in total, but you can find it for $526 through other retailers.</p>
Toto USA<p>The company's flagship standalone bidet is known as the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/TOTO-BT784B-01-Clayton-Vertical/dp/B0018L9JUC/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=toto+clayton+bidet&qid=1613592108&sr=8-2" target="_blank">Clayton</a>. It includes the same overflow safeguards as the other two, and of course, each of these products is backed by Toto's longstanding commitment to excellent craftsmanship.</p><p><strong>Why buy: </strong>This is the most traditional in its visual style, and, with a number of colors to choose from, it will look great in almost any bathroom design. The Clayton starts at $734, but is available through other retailers for around $426.</p>
Toto USA<p>This electronic smart bidet seat fits onto your existing toilet bowl and offers a number of comfort features, including a heated seat, automatic air deodorizer, adjustable warm water, warm air dryer, self-cleaning wand, and a wireless remote control.</p><p><strong>Why buy:</strong> We chose the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UCIOX2Q/ref=redir_mobile_desktop?_encoding=UTF8&aaxitk=-XjvJQOmffOcAmiCOZvtAA&hsa_cr_id=7413316040901&pd_rd_plhdr=t&pd_rd_r=0e0e7f3d-0baf-4977-85d3-663f618a76d8&pd_rd_w=Yi3yF&pd_rd_wg=LUFHB&ref_=sbx_be_s_sparkle_lsi3d_asin_1_img" target="_blank">Toto C200</a> as the overall best bidet in <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/best-bidet-toilet-seats-2650502928.html" target="_self">our review</a> of top brands. In addition to the features mentioned, its dual action oscillating and pulsating spray and pre-mist function provide a comfortable and sanitary clean.</p>
Toto USA<p>The <a href="https://www.amazon.com/TOTO-SW3046-01-Electronic-Contemporary/dp/B078GTKSXK/ref=sr_1_2?crid=15NGPC9YFANKH&dchild=1&keywords=toto+s500e&qid=1613960063&sprefix=toto+s500e%2Caps%2C171&sr=8-2" target="_blank">Toto Washlet S500e</a> bidet seat includes the features found in the C200, plus instantaneous water heating, front and rear wash functions, two-user preset memory, and the company's <a href="https://www.totousa.com/technologies/ewater" target="_blank">EWATER+ technology</a>. This system uses electrolyzed water to keep the wand and toilet bowl clean.</p><p><strong>Why buy:</strong> This high-end Toto electric bidet seat can help you reduce water and toilet paper use, and it can help reduce the need for chemical cleaning products with its EWATER+ technology.</p>
Toto USA<p>The <a href="https://www.amazon.com/TOTO-SW2014-01-Electronic-SoftClose/dp/B0165UFOGS/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=30E9Y1LAN9ZRW&dchild=1&keywords=toto+washlet+a100+elongated+bidet+toilet+seat&qid=1613589664&sprefix=toto+washlet+a100%2Caps%2C167&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUFBR1FMUTdJR1hXNUEmZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTAyNjIwOTkxUE1EWk5CQjg2QTZPJmVuY3J5cHRlZEFkSWQ9QTA0NDc1MzExSk1UMk5CQzJYVUhVJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==" target="_blank">A100</a> is an entry-level Washlet bidet attachment, but still offers numerous comfort features. It includes a heated seat with temperature control, aerated warm water with a dual action spray, and an attached arm control panel.</p><p><strong>Why buy: </strong>One of the most affordable Toto bidet options, it still lets you adjust the water temperature and pressure settings, and features rear and front cleaning functionality for a feminine wash.</p>
In 2018, a team of researchers went to West Africa's Nimba Mountains in search of one critically endangered species of bat. Along the way, they ended up discovering another.
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By Georgina Kenyon
Earlier this year, the term "bat tornado" started appearing in the Australian and international media. It all started with a BBC report from the town of Ingham in the northeastern state of Queensland, where the population of flying fox bats had apparently "exploded" over the last two years, leaving residents fed up with their noise and smell.
Travelers in Search of Wood and Water<p>The Australian mainland has four species of flying fox — also known as <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/zambia-incredible-flight-of-the-fruit-bats/a-36825859" target="_blank">fruit bats</a> — two of which are listed as nationally protected species. Some can reach a wingspan of 1.5 meters.</p><p>Flying fox camps have been likened to railway stations, where crowds of the animals come and go each day. They may travel up to 50 kilometers (30 miles) in a single night, and 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) seasonally, depending on food availability. </p><p>They also need a good source of water, drinking small amounts frequently to stay hydrated without weighing themselves down in flight. Susan Island, located in the middle of the Clarence River that runs through the city of Grafton, has become an ideal congregation spot. </p><p>But climate change and deforestation are making their movements less predictable. As their habitat is lost or water sources dry up, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/australia-heat-wave-brain-frying-bats/a-42078045" target="_blank">they seek refuge</a> in urban or suburban areas. "They're being forced into areas they would not normally be," said Tim Pearson, an ecologist and chair of the NGO Sydney Bats. </p><p>And while some Australian towns may be seeing an influx of flying foxes, nationally, their numbers have dropped significantly. </p>
Perishing in the Heat<p>Extreme temperatures over recent years have wiped out thousands — sometimes even tens of thousands — of animals at a time, with media reports showing heaps of corpses where they have fallen from trees suffering extreme heat stress.</p><p>Australia experienced the hottest November on record this year, with temperatures reaching the mid-40 degrees Celsius in some regions.</p><p>And bats are more exposed to heat in towns and suburbs where they don't have the protection of thick forest. </p><p>"This latest catastrophe to befall some of Australia's largest bat species is a symptom of a much larger problem — Australia's deforestation crisis," said Matt Brennan, head of Tasmania-based Wilderness Society. "Eastern Australia is now a designated global deforestation hotspot, alongside places like the Amazon, the Congo and Borneo." </p>
Extending a Helping Hand<p>Some towns are trying to help them. Yarra City council in Melbourne has installed sprinkler systems where flying foxes come to breed in huge colonies on the Yarra River, to try and keep them cool. </p><p>And along the Parramatta River in Sydney, the New South Wales state government has helped fund a project to plant trees to provide the bats with more habitat and shade.</p><p>However, these well-intentioned interventions don't always hit the mark. Pearson says sprinklers can startle heat-exhausted animals, increasing their stress levels. And ultimately, making urban environments more hospitable to bats is no substitute for preserving the forests where they are naturally at home.</p><p>"You can plant trees to give the flying foxes more habitat, but the real problem is climate change and ongoing deforestation," said Pearson. </p>
Bats Need Forests, and Forests Need Bats<p>While flying foxes suffer from loss of trees, loss of fruit bats is, in turn, bad news for trees. As flying foxes pop their heads into flowers to feed on nectar, or consume fruit and excrete the seeds, they help eucalypts, melaleucas, banksias and many species of rainforest trees and vines, to reproduce.</p><p>Pearson warns that if we don't address climate change and halt deforestation, Australia's flying fox numbers will fall so low within the next few decades, they will no longer be able perform this vital role.</p><p>"I think they will survive in some pockets along the coast where there is food and water," he said, "but they will not be acting as the pollinators and seed dispersers that are so necessary for our forests to survive." </p>
Learning to Love Our Winged Neighbors<p>Pearson is among the flying fox's fiercest defenders. He's studying their vocalizations and says the din their human neighbors complain about is actually the highly developed communication of an intelligent and intensely social species. </p><p>He wants the public to stop seeing them as disease-carrying invaders and start appreciating fruit bats for the extraordinary animals they are: "It's through educating people, raising awareness about how important these flying foxes are for ecosystem health that we may be able to save them."</p><p>In Grafton, spectators now sometimes gather to watch them on their nightly search for food. </p><p>"When I realized people were coming from around Australia just to see the bats here out of curiosity, I started to find out more about them, appreciate them," said Taylor. "People actually row out to the island to see them!" </p><p>"I guess the bats are kind of funky," she admits.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/flying-foxes-australias-love-hate-relationship-with-fruit-bats/a-55949095" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649780401#/" target="_self"></a></p>
By Tara Lohan
As we work to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists are also studying its origins. How did the SARS-Co-V-2 virus, which causes the disease, jump from wildlife to humans? Many believe it originated in horseshoe bats (from the genus Rhinolophus), which are known hosts of other coronaviruses.
Bat Conservation International's chief scientist Winifred Frick. Winifred Frick
Given what we know so far about the origins of the virus, should people be scared of wild bats?<p>In zoonotic disease, what happens is that you have viruses that are circulating naturally in wildlife populations. And then an event happens in which that virus spills over into the human population. If that pathogen starts to spread human-to-human, then we have a zoonotic disease outbreak.</p><p>It's important to remember that COVID-19 is at this point a human disease and it's being transmitted human-to-human. So nobody living here in North America needs to be worried about getting COVID-19 from a bat.</p><p>I think that we really want to allay concerns that people need to fear bats. There's definitely been some fear that has arisen because people hear that bats are somewhat associated [with the pandemic] and then that leads to misunderstanding.</p><p>Our general guidance is that people shouldn't be handling bats or wild animals of any kind.</p>
There was a recommendation from the federal government that scientists may need to limit their fieldwork with bats in North America now to prevent a possible transmission of the virus from humans back to species of bats here. Is that a concern?<p>There is some concern about "reverse zoonosis" or spill back, which is the idea that humans could transmit SARS-Co-V-2 back to wildlife populations.</p><p>Researchers are working really hard to understand the vulnerability of other mammals to this novel strain of coronavirus. There was news about a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/nyregion/bronx-zoo-tiger-coronavirus.html" target="_blank">tiger at the Bronx Zoo</a> testing positive and some evidence that different mammals may be susceptible. We really want to make sure that we're protecting bats, which are mammals like us, from any risk from an asymptomatic human.</p><p>Just as we don't want people to spread this virus human-to-human, we don't want people to spread this virus human-to-wildlife. This isn't necessarily a specific concern about bats but really any mammal. We don't know yet if mammals could start to transmit animal-to-animal within their own populations. But right now we really want to limit exposure and limit any risk since we are still in an active research phase.</p>
Have you seen much bat backlash?<p>There's some evidence that there's been some efforts to kill bats in different parts of the world. And we're very concerned about that. Bats are an important part of our ecosystem. They're incredibly biodiverse. They account for about 20 percent of all mammals globally. A lot of people don't realize that there's more than 1,400 different species of bat around the world.</p><p>And they have an enormous variety of ecological roles — what we call "ecosystem services." Here in North America, bats are primarily insect-eating and it's been documented that they provide in the billions [of dollars of benefit] for the agricultural industry in terms of their role in reducing crop predation.</p>
What kind of threats do bats face from us?<p>Globally bats face a variety of different threats, including anthropogenic land-use change, and habitat destruction and degradation. Because many species of bats form large colonies underground, those can be targets for disturbance and indiscriminate killing.</p><p>That's the one that we're really worried about right now. If people start to fear bats, we could see an uptick in directed killings. We're very concerned about that and very focused on trying to provide accurate information and also roost protection.</p><p>And of course <a href="https://therevelator.org/fungus-killing-americas-bats/" target="_blank">white-nose syndrome</a> is a major threat to our hibernating bats here in North America. It's a fungal pathogen that was likely introduced here through human trade or travel. The fungus is widespread in Europe and into temperate Asia. When it was introduced here, it spread very rapidly and has killed millions of bats.</p><p>And, unfortunately, you can't tell bats to social distance.</p>
What can we be doing right now to help bats?<p>The number-one thing that people can do is to say positive things about bats and make sure we aren't scapegoating wildlife. There's a lot of evidence that zoonotic diseases are a reflection of our misuse of the planet. When people are <a href="https://therevelator.org/biodiversity-health-pandemics/" target="_blank">destroying habitats and unsustainably harvesting species</a>, those are the conditions that lead to these kinds of spillover events. And now more than ever, I think there is that recognition that human health and planetary health are intertwined and that <a href="https://therevelator.org/coronavirus-wildlife-trade/" target="_blank">wildlife conservation is a part of global health solutions</a>.</p><p>Because bats do carry coronaviruses in the wild, and they have been talked about in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's really important that people speak up for bats. This is not the bats' fault. This is our fault.</p>
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A deadly fungal disease responsible for the deaths of millions of bats across the U.S. has been confirmed in Texas for the first time.
By Alexa Peters
October is a time for bats. As the crisp fall air descends, plastic bats swing from trees and confectioners make treats in their little winged shapes. The little spooky creatures even have an entire week leading up to Halloween dedicated to them: International Bat Week. Yet they remain largely misunderstood.
1. Educate About Bats, and Start Young<p>Saving bats and preserving the multitude of benefits they bring has to start with the narrative we tell about them.</p><p>First we need to understand what they are—and what aren't. Many see bats as flying rodents, when in fact these dog-faced mammals are closely related to humans. Their wings, in fact, are a variation on the <a href="http://blogs.bu.edu/biolocomotion/2011/10/16/bats-the-only-flying-mammal/" target="_blank">human hand</a>.</p><p>We tend to avoid bats because we fear them – or at least fear what they might be carrying: rabies. Yet, Dr. Thomas Rodhouse, lead researcher on the Oregon State study, says the risk of rabies is <a href="http://www.batcon.org/resources/for-specific-issues/bats-human-health" target="_blank">lower than you might </a>think, especially if you learn the proper, respectful bat-handling <a href="http://www.batcon.org/resources/for-specific-issues/bats-human-health" target="_blank">techniques</a>.</p><p>A disproportionate fear of bats can also be addressed in how we educate children about them. With this in mind, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife provides <a href="https://batslive.pwnet.org/edubat/" target="_blank">education trunks</a> that teachers and parents can rent.</p><p>"We have actual specimens of bats preserved for kids to see up close," says Rachel Blomker, communications manager in public affairs for the department. "We've got bat skeletons, and it's interesting a lot of folks think bats are like flying mice, but actually bats are more related to humans than to rodents. It's really cool then to get kids thinking about the importance of bats and just keeping an eye out and being more aware of the need for bats."</p>
2. Recover and Preserve Bat Habitat<p>Bats love river valleys, where the insects on which they feast are the most plentiful. As a result, preserving the habitat there can be key for strengthening bat resiliency, Rodhouse says.</p><p>"If there's one thing we could do to help hoary bats, it's plant and preserve big cottonwoods along river valleys. That's a habitat strategy that could be considered a mitigation to offset the kinds of losses going on," Rodhouse said.</p><p>Another suggestion to aiding bats is retaining the snags in wooded areas, Rodhouse said. Bats roost in the sloughed bark of these hollow, decaying trees and will often raise their babies there during the summer—so, leave those dead limbs in your yard if you can.</p>
3. Plan Bat-Friendly Urban Spaces<p>Bats have learned how to use urban areas to their advantage. This is why we often encounter them using spaces in our homes and around other man-made structures such as bridges. But by building awareness, we can accommodate bats in ways that help them thrive while also preventing an unexpected encounter.</p><p>At home, installing <a href="https://batweek.org/install-bat-house/" target="_blank">bat boxes</a> or small wooden bat houses, deters bats from entering your home. Unfortunately, hoary bats don't use these, but for species in the area such as the little brown bat, they can be a great way to promote peaceful coexistence.</p>
4. Report Bat Sightings<p>Bats are elusive and hard to study. Species in Pacific Northwest tend to hibernate in smaller groups than those in the east—making them difficult to locate, Blomker says.</p><p>She suggests that one of the most helpful things a person can do is help track and monitor bats—especially if they are roosting in spaces on your private property. That way, biologists can come out, check on the colonies and better understand how they live.</p><p>"We have an <a href="https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/diseases/bat-white-nose" target="_blank">online reporting tool</a> ... that has helped us quite a bit; we had our first case of WNS found east of the cascades in Washington just last month," Blomker said.</p><p>A private land owner had reported a colony of 750 bats in his barn in addition to some dead ones that tested positive for White Nose Syndrome, a devastating, cold-loving fungus that eats away bat wings as they hibernate, wakes them up early from torpor, weakens bats and causes them to starve to death.</p>
5. Support the Efforts of Conservation Groups<p>Dr. Winifred Frick, chief scientist with Bat Conservation International suggests people seeking to help preserve the population look for opportunities to fund such work.</p><p>By becoming a member of <a href="http://www.batcon.org/?gclid=CjwKCAjwldHsBRAoEiwAd0JybTsx09NemhtPi3As5APS6h09bGnwMmgf1RcimloiQ8j4sMviyyvTrRoCnQYQAvD_BwE" target="_blank">Bat Conservation International</a>, for example, you help scientists address threats like turbines and the mysterious White Nose Syndrome. White Nose Syndrome is a particular concern because it has killed an estimated <a href="https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/bat_crisis_white-nose_syndrome/Q_and_A.html" target="_blank">6.7 billion bats since 2009</a>, and scientists are still unsure how the fungus that causes the disease spreads and whether it can be eradicated.</p><p>A donation also helps fund bat educational programs, habitat restoration, and further bat research. In the Pacific Northwest, a nonprofit called <a href="http://www.batsnorthwest.org/" target="_blank">Bats Northwest</a>, works to educate the public about bats, teams up with government biologists to protect them, and promotes responsible actions in human-bat conflict.</p><p>Conservation groups like these also ally with industry groups to promote corporate accountability. The bat conservation group has been working closely with the wind energy industry for more than 15 years, especially after <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/43267494?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents" target="_blank">2011 data</a> revealed that about 450,000 bat fatalities per year occurred at wind facilities, with hoary bats accounting for 50% of the fatalities.</p><p>"We've done a lot of work trying to identify different solutions including determining if it's possible to change the wind and wind turbine blade spin to reduce the number of fatalities," Frick said. "And technological solutions like acoustic deterrents that could potentially deter bats from flying near the turbine blades" in the first place.</p>
What has leathery wings and needle-sharp teeth, feeds at night, and drinks blood?
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By Stacey McKenna
I'm sitting on a ridge at 9,000 feet, overlooking the world's largest alpine valley. The mid-June sun drops behind a nearby cliff band and the clouds shift, leaving errant rays of light shimmering in the passing agricultural vehicles' dust trails. Behind me, a fence blocks access to a yawning hole—the entrance to the decades-defunct Orient iron mine—from which tens of thousands of bats should start emerging any minute now.
The lesser long-nosed bat made bat history Tuesday when it became the first U.S. bat species to be removed from the endangered species list because of recovery, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced.
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By John R. Platt
It's Friday evening in Pittsburgh, and the mosquitoes are out in force. One bites at my arm and I try to slap it away. Another takes the opportunity to land on my neck. I manage to shoo this one off before it tastes blood.
I'm at Carrie Furnaces, a massive historic ironworks on the banks of Pennsylvania's Monongahela River. Stories-tall rusting structures loom all around me, as do the occasional trees poking their way out of the ground. A tour guide, leading a group from the Society of Environmental Journalists conference, tells me the soil here is full of heavy metals and other pollutants from the factory, which operated for nearly a century before closing in 1982.
Mercury accumulation, previously considered a risk for aquatic ecosystems, is also found in many wildlife species living on the land, according to a new report published by the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. Hidden Risk: Mercury in Terrestrial Systems of the Northeast highlights the BRI’s scientific findings on high levels of mercury contamination in songbirds and bats throughout 11 northeastern states.
“While the risk of mercury to people is well known—there are more than 3,700 fish consumption advisories issued in the U.S.—we are still learning about mercury’s effects on wildlife,” says David C. Evers, Ph.D., BRI’s executive director and chief scientist. “Mercury accumulation has many implications for the health and survival of wildlife species across habitats, not just those that live and feed in aquatic habitats. Our research has found that mercury concentrations in animals that live in terrestrial environments are significant enough to cause physiological and reproductive harm. This knowledge is creating a major paradigm shift in ecotoxicological research, assessment, monitoring, management, and policy.”
Hidden Risk is the most complete synthesis of songbird and bat mercury data in the Northeast published to date. This report documents, for the first time, elevated levels of mercury in a wide range of songbirds and bats living in a variety of terrestrial ecosystems in northeastern states from Maine to Virginia. Among the findings:
- Current environmental mercury loads have the ability to significantly reduce reproductive success in several songbird species of conservation concern in the northeastern U.S., including the saltmarsh sparrow and rusty blackbird
- Bats also build up significant body burdens of mercury. Individuals from multiple species from all 10 areas sampled in the northeastern U.S. exceeded the subclinical threshold for changes to neurochemistry
- Mercury loading in songbirds is not only restricted during the breeding season. For some species, such as the northern waterthrush, high levels of mercury accumulate during migration and in tropical wintering grounds.
Songbirds and bats, often referred to as insect eaters, are more accurately called invertivores because they eat a wide variety of invertebrate species such as spiders, snails, and worms, in addition to insects. “The role of invertivores in the ecosystem has until now been largely ignored in mercury investigations,” says Evers. “However, these species are more common, widespread, and sensitive to mercury contamination than previously known; studying the terrestrial food web can serve as an effective biological network of important indicators for people and wildlife.”
Hidden Risk presents findings from at-risk habitats, and associated indicator species are identified based on the species’ level of conservation concern, relative abundance, and ability to build up mercury in the body. The report demonstrates the significant costs of mercury to wildlife that were not factored into previous cost/benefit analyses.
In the U.S., mercury becomes an air pollutant largely through emissions from coal-fired power plants. In some areas, cement plants and mining related industries also add to mercury pollution. Airborne mercury eventually returns to the earth in rain, snow, and fog droplets, as well as in dry form. Under the right conditions, mercury is transformed into methylmercury, an organic toxin that becomes magnified as it is ingested up the food chain. The toxic effects of methylmercury may include both neurological and reproductive harm to wildlife, and to people who consume contaminated wildlife.
“While air pollution impacts people and nature on public and private lands, the good news is that when action has been taken to reduce mercury emissions, the results are very promising,” says Dr. Timothy Tear, New York director of science for the Nature Conservancy. “Research has shown that reduction in mercury levels do make a difference to dramatically and quickly reverse mercury contamination trends in fish and wildlife. Reducing this neurotoxin from the environment will benefit wildlife and people.”
Hidden Risk outlines a number of management actions that can be taken to reduce the mercury risk in various terrestrial ecosystems, ranging from cleaning up legacy dump sites to reducing atmospheric deposition. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently finalized the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) Rule that requires coal-fired power plants to update their mercury pollution control technologies, and this report highlights the importance of tracking the biological implications of this rule through better national and international monitoring programs. The report also calls for the establishment of critical loads for air-borne contaminants that are based upon preserving healthy ecosystems. Critical loads identify the maximum level of pollutant deposition that ecosystems can handle before harmful effects occur.
Air pollution continues to be an important area of environmental concern. The recent U.S. EPA MATS ruling and release of the National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program Report to Congress: An Integrated Assessment underscore the fact that although efforts to reduce air pollution in the U.S. are working, there is still much more work to be done.
More than 50 researchers contributed to the information in this report, which illustrates the continued interest in advancing our understanding of the impacts of air pollution—in particular mercury—on nature and people. Hidden Risk: Mercury in Terrestrial Systems of the Northeast and related materials are available online at by clicking here.
The mission of the Biodiversity Research Institute is to assess emerging threats to wildlife and ecosystems through collaborative research, and to use scientific findings to advance environmental awareness and inform decision makers. BRI’s science programs include wetlands, mammal, raptor, waterfowl, migratory bird, marine bird, coastal bird, wildlife and renewable energy, and tropical programs. BRI’s research efforts stretch throughout most of North and Central America, as well as across sites in South America, Russia, South Africa and Europe. For more information about BRI's work, click here.
For more information, click here.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide.