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Waterfowl Contaminant Study on Onondaga Lake, New York

Date Posted: February 1, 2011

A recent study of mercury levels in songbirds and shorebirds from the Onondaga Lake in New York was mentioned in an article on, a website affiliated with the Post Standard newspaper

Certain contaminants, particularly mercury, can be elevated in the environment as a result of past and current industrial activities. Onondaga Lake contains elevated mercury levels in some fish and other wildlife, including birds. The study investigated the amount of mercury that is available to certain species of songbirds and shorebirds that spend time on Onondaga Lake. Data collected through this study will help evaluate whether or not mercury levels on Onondaga Lake are a concern to other bird species, including bald eagles that winter in large numbers on the lake.

The study showed blood levels of mercury that were as high as 2 parts per million in those birds, while the threshold of concern for sensitive species is closer to 0.6 parts per million. Further studies are now being conducted. 


Anne Secord, EC Supervisor, New York Field Office, 607-753-9334


More information can be found at the Fish and Wildlife Service, New York Field Office's Environmental Contaminants: Natural Resource Damage Assessment website - Awesome natural tableau in Central New York: The eagles of Onondaga Lake. Sunday, January 30, 2011 By Sean Kirst / The Post-Standard

Last updated: June 12, 2015