Western Connecticut’s hat making industry is still polluting rivers
Western Connecticut’s hat making industry is still polluting rivers, according to researchers from UConn and Wesleyan University.
A group of researchers from UConn and Wesleyan University spent four years studying a stretch of the Still River, discovering that industrial waste of a century ago is still present in 2020.
Kayla Anatone ’12 (CAHNR), a current PhD student at Wesleyan University, was researching if “legacy” mercury was impacting the environment and still making its way into the food web. She and co-authors from the UConn Marine Sciences department, including PhD student Gunnar Hansen, Professor Robert Mason, Assistant Research Professor Zofia Baumann and Wesleyan University Professor Barry Chernoff, recently published the findings.
The researchers performed the studies by sampling water, sediments, and tissues from a fish called the Eastern Blacknose Dace from seven sites on the river over the course of four years, according to Technology Networks. Some of the sample sites were taken at former factory sites and some were reference sites for comparison.
According to Baumann, there have been studies performed to measure some aspects of mercury pollution in the river, but the data has not been summarized in a systematic way.
This study is the first comprehensive investigation of the Still River.
The Still River watershed has significantly high levels of mercury in the fish no matter where the fish are from along the river, according to Anatone. Fish muscle tissue from six out of seven of the sites had concentrations that exceed EPA guidance levels for weekly mercury consumption. High amounts of mercury persist in the sediments as well, but this mercury is not bioavailable.