Florida DEP Uses Bad Science to Justify New Water Restrictions

Published June 5, 2012

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) is utilizing poor science to support its proposed new restrictions on mercury in water bodies in the state, reports mercury researcher Dr. Willie Soon.

Soon has written a comprehensive response to an editorial by FDEP official Drew Bartlett, in which Bartlett argues the state needs to impose strictest-in-the-nation limits on mercury entering water bodies. Soon documents that that mercury levels in Florida water bodies and in Florida fish are well below mercury levels in other parts of the world that have proven safe for people and the environment.

Soon also observes that most of the mercury in Florida waters comes from natural sources, such that expensive efforts to reduce human mercury contributions will have little real-world environmental impact.

Finally, Soon notes, a draft report produced by FDEP itself cites a study in which Princeton University researchers report no connection between mercury levels in water bodies and mercury levels in the fish living in such water bodies. Ironically, FDEP confirms this, stating “no relationship is observed when comparing total mercury in the water column to total mercury in fish tissues.” Without such a connection, more stringent mercury restrictions are neither effective nor necessary, Soon asserts.

Although several Florida newspapers published Bartlett’s editorial, none have agreed to publish Soon’s response. Soon’s response is available here.