Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is found in very small amounts in oceans, rocks and soil. It becomes airborne when rocks break down, volcanoes erupt, or coal and natural gas are burned as fuel. It is also released when mercury containing items are discarded improperly by residents and industries.
Once in the air, mercury can fall with rain and snow, landing on soil or in bodies of water, causing contamination of lakes and rivers. Eating mercury-contaminated fish is the most common method of human exposure to mercury, which is especially dangerous to children and pregnant women.
- Fluorescent light tubes and bulbs, including CFL bulbs
- Button batteries from watches and hearing aids
- Thermometers, thermostats and switches
- Old latex and oil paints (manufactured before August 1990)
- Chemistry sets, older toys and games
If you have any of these items in your home, DO NOT throw them in the garbage or pour mercury down the drain! Avoid touching liquid mercury from spills. Prompt, correct clean-up is essential. Visit the MPCA Mercury website or the Lake County General Health District for more information about cleaning up spills.
Too much nitrogen and phosphorus in the water causes algae to grow faster than ecosystems can handle. This leads to algal blooms, tainted fish and contaminated drinking water. There are ways you can help keep phosphorus out of our water systems:
Use Non-Phosphorus Fertilizer on Lawns and Gardens
Be sure to check the bags when you buy fertilizer. Look for the package formula of nitrate-phosphorus-potassium, such as 22-0-15. The middle number represents phosphorus and should be 0.
Keep Grass Clippings in the Yard
When mowing the grass, avoid blowing grass clippings into the street where they wash into storm sewers that drain into the Grand River and Lake Erie.
Keep Leaves and Other Organic Matter Out of the Street
Just like grass clippings, everything blown into the street ends up in the river and lake. Sweep up and grass, leaves or fertilizer spills and dispose of properly.
Leave a Wide Strip of Deep-Rooted Plants Along Shoreland
Instead of planting and mowing grass here, plant wildflowers, ornamental grasses, shrubs or trees. These plants absorb and filter runoff, as well as provide habitat for wildlife.