Dianne Kopec is a Research Fellow at the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability at the University of Maine. Her biological research documents toxic contaminants in wildlife, such as mercury in fish (and the animals that eat them, like birds and harbor seals).
Because of mercury contamination in Maine's waters, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has a posted fish consumption health advisory. Since all 50 states have such advisories, the EPA also offers safe eating guidelines for fish consumption, especially for pregnant women, as exposure can cause behavioral problems and decreased cognitive performance.
For decades, mercury contamination in Maine freshwater fish has denied members of the Penobscot Nation their legally protected sustenance fishing rights. Currently, Dr. Kopec's research is helping to minimize mercury exposure to tribal members.
With an eye on the future, Dianne Kopec says, "We don't have to accept mercury pollution as a given." She discusses how legislation today can protect all of us from toxic exposures tomorrow, so that we might be able to fish with our grandchildren...and eat the catch.
Play audio, below: