Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mercury pollution continues to grow in oceans

The human activities such as fossil fuel burning, mining, and other industrial processes have contributed to a significant rise of mercury pollution in our oceans. In fact, researchers say that the mercury pollution in the surface ocean has more than doubled in the last 100 years.

For the last two years, a Coastal and Marine Mercury Ecosystem Research Collaborative (C-MERC) team of scientists has examined the mercury sources and levels in Hudson River Estuary, San Francisco Bay, Gulf of Mexico, Long Island Sound, Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Maine, Arctic Ocean, and the open ocean. In their latest report they said that mercury released into the air and then deposited into oceans contaminates fish and other seafood commonly eaten by people in the U.S. and rest of the world.

They also said that „mercury deposited from the atmosphere ranges from 56% of the mercury loading to several large gulfs to approximately 90% in the open ocean“.

The consumption of ocean fish such as tuna can lead to high mercury exposure.

Mercury is very harmful neurotoxin that can lead to many adverse health effects and exposure to higher concentrations of mercury can even cause permanent neurological and brain damage.

For most of people in the world the main source of mercury exposure is through the consumption of ocean fish such as tuna. What this means is that decreasing the levels of mercury pollution in our oceans would lead to healthier diet because we would be eating fish without having to worry whether we are exposed to increased levels of mercury pollution when doing so.

The scientists also report than mercury concentrations in fish population would decline roughly in proportion to decreases in mercury inputs. The problem here is that achieving any significant decrease in mercury pollution requires substantial cuts in emissions from industrial sources such as coal power plants because there is already a large quantity of mercury in terrestrial environments and ocean waters.

If we want to have healthy fish on our dinner tables we will have to find the way to reduce mercury pollution from our industry. The good staring point would be to impose much stricter mercury pollution standards for fossil fuels fired power plants.

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