The former HoltraChem Manufacturing Co. was situated alongside a gentle bend in the Penobscot River in Orrington, as shown here in 1997. High levels of mercury were detected in the rivers and lakes surrounding the site. Press Herald photo

BANGOR — Senators from Maine and Delaware want to establish a national mercury monitoring program to try to safeguard human health from the neurotoxin.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Democratic Sen. Tom Carper introduced the proposal.

Collins said she was motivated to propose it because some lands and water bodies in Maine have higher mercury pollution levels than the nation at large.

The proposal would establish mercury monitoring sites around the country to measure levels in air, water and living organisms, the senators said. The proposal was the subject of a hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in mid-July.

Collins said the effort “would establish a comprehensive national monitoring network, helping to protect human health, safeguard fisheries, and track the effect of emissions reductions.”

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