Front Porch Blog

Help Protect Kentucky’s Fish from Toxic Selenium

Two headed trout, a result of selenium pollution. Courtesy of USFWS.

The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet is currently attempting to significantly weaken the state’s water quality standards for selenium.

Selenium is a pollutant common at some coal mines that deforms and kills aquatic life. It bioaccumulates, increasing in concentration as it moves up the food chain, affecting larger fish and aquatic birds. At higher levels, selenium is toxic to people. Humans can be exposed to selenium through the water they drink and the fish they eat. Long-term exposure can damage the liver, kidneys, nervous system, and circulatory system.

Selenium pollution is expensive to prevent and to treat. By loosening standards, the cabinet is trying to protect the bottom line of polluters at the expense of the health of the state’s waterways and those that depend on them.

To learn more about selenium and why it is a problem in Kentucky, click here to read our selenium fact sheet (PDF).

Public comments are being accepted through Friday, March 1. Please help protect Kentucky’s fish from the toxic effects of selenium. Take a minute to make your voice heard by submitting a comment.

Even The Daily Show has taken note of the problem of selenium pollution in our nation’s waterways. The clip focuses on pollution from phosphate mines in Idaho, but the similarities between what happened there and what is going on in Kentucky are striking.

An expert kayaker with a serious passion for protecting our waterways, Eric served as our Water Quality Specialist for the Appalachian Water Watch team from 2010 to 2015.

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  1. […] strip mining. In large amounts, it’s toxic to both aquatic life and humans. Remember the pictures of two-headed trout? That birth defect was caused by high levels of selenium. The substance also bioaccumulates up the […]

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