"No fish can escape mercury pollution. That's the take-home message from a federal study of mercury contamination released Wednesday that tested fish from nearly 300 streams across the country.
The toxic substance was found in every fish sampled, a finding that underscores how widespread mercury pollution has become.
But while all fish had traces of contamination, only about a quarter had mercury levels exceeding what the Environmental Protection Agency says is safe for people eating average amounts of fish.
The study by the U.S. Geological Survey is the most comprehensive look to date at mercury in the nation's streams. From 1998 to 2005, scientists collected and tested more than a thousand fish, including bass, trout and catfish, from 291 streams nationwide.
"This science sends a clear message that our country must continue to confront pollution, restore our nation's waterways, and protect the public from potential health dangers," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement."
Dina Cappiello reports for the Associated Press August 19, 2009.