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Mercury in Alaska

drop of mercuryDEC's Division of Environmental Health is concerned about mercury as an environmental health risk. This page contains a compilation of basic information about mercury, toxicity, sources of mercury, monitoring and reduction efforts, and regulatory aspects. The site will be updated as new information becomes available.

If you have any questions on the contents of this page or questions on mercury, please contact Sally Schlichting at or 907-465-5076.

Quick Facts

Highly Toxic
  • Neurotoxin (affects central nervous system and brain)
  • Affects kidneys, stomach, intestines, and heart
  • May cause learning disabilities, developmental effects and behavioral issues
  • May affect immune system
Persistent & Bioaccumulative
  • Remains in the environment for a long time
  • Cycles through the environment
  • Humans may be exposed to contaminated soil or water
  • Accumulates up the food chain
  • Humans may also be exposed by eating contaminated fish or wildlife
Three Forms
  • Metallic mercury (elemental mercury) - shiny silver colored liquid
  • Inorganic mercury (mercury salts) - combined with other elements such as chlorine, sulfur, or oxygen. White crystals or powder except mercury sulfide (cinnabar) which is red. May be dissolved in water and not visible.
  • Organic mercury - mercury combined with carbon. Most common form is methylmercury which is also the most toxic form that accumulates up the food chain. Methylmercury may be dissolved in water or tissues and is not visible.

News (Updated 07/14/2017)

Traditional Food Contaminant Data for Hawk Inlet near Angoon, Alaska (March 2016)

Other News


National Park Service Study

The National Park Service released its' survey Mercury in Fish from 21 Western and Alaskan National Parks in 2014. This survey of fish in nine lakes and one stream in four Alaska national park units has detected mercury. The study also found measurable levels of mercury in fish in other western United States national parks.

Air Monitoring

Hair Monitoring

Fish Monitoring