U.S. Geological Survey

U.S. Geological Survey

by Alan League

Birds give the word on Great Lakes contamination under a U.S. Geological Survey program. Since 2010 the federal agency has monitored contaminants in the blood and tissues of birds to track environmental trends and monitor the success of chemical cleanups.

Fifty sites have been sampled throughout all the Great Lakes states and 2 more will be added this year on the Cuyahoga River in Ohio and at Deer Lake in the Upper Peninsula. Additional sites will also be added within areas that have already been sampled including the Buffalo River and St. Louis.

Birds are good indicators because they are sensitive to changes in chemical concentrations in the environment, according to the project’s website.