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Mercury in the SF Bay

Although not as contaminated as the Minimata Bay in Japan, the San Francisco Bay is also contaminated with mercury. Gold miners in the 1800's used mercury when they were mining for gold in the Sierra foothills. Much of this mercury came from a local mine in San Jose. A lot of mercury from the goldmines and from the mercury mine was washed down hillsides into streams, rivers and eventually reached the San Francisco Bay. Mercury from these old mines is the biggest cause of mercury pollution in the bay. Because of this, fish that live in the San Francisco Bay are contaminated with mercury and scientists warn us not to eat them. The safest fish to eat out of the bay are migrating fish, or fish that travel long distances from one place to the other and are just passing through the bay. Migrating fish in the San Francisco Bay include wild salmon and herring.

Learn more about California's gold mining days: