Colorado State uses High Park Fire as a chance to study mercury

 

Though the High Park Fire was tragic on many levels, but it presents a unique chance for Colorado State researchers to study the way that fire transports mercury in a landscape. The study began last month and will

FORT COLLINS, CO  - JUNE 11:  Smoke from the H...
FORT COLLINS, CO – JUNE 11: Smoke from the High Park Fire rises from the hillside looking west along Colorado State Highway 14 on June 11, 2012 in Fort Collins, Colorado. The High Park Fire in Larimer County has burned almost 37,000 acres and damaged or destroyed more than 100 structures. There is no containment of the fire, which is burning in the mountains about 15 miles west of Fort Collins, Co. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

take a look at the mercury levels in air, rainwater, fish and water samples according to a CSU press release. Jesse Lepak, aquatic research scientist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife said:

Mercury is accumulated in essentially all living things, and when these things are burned – fossil fuels and trees, for example – they emit mercury into the atmosphere which is then deposited on the landscape where it can be recycled by other living things. It has been shown that forest fires can increase mercury deposition on the landscape, and further research is needed to understand the negative impacts of this increased mercury in the environment.”

This research is gaining national attention from the scientific community. The precipitator collation site, part of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program’s Mercury Deposition Network, is one of 100 and is the first here on the Front Range.