Mercury Pollution Found to Contaminate Seafood

Though released in the air, mercury makes its way into seas and oceans

By Laura Sinpetru on December 4th, 2012 20:01 GMT

The journal Environmental Health Perspectives has recently witnessed the publication of a new study stating that seafood worldwide is presently running the risk of becoming contaminated by the mercury released into the atmosphere by various industrial processes.

According to the specialists who have investigated this matter at hand, the levels of mercury pollution recorded in oceans worldwide have more than doubled over the past 100 years.

In case anyone was wondering, practices such as burning coal and mining are the major culprits for this unfortunate status quo.

Given the fact that seafood is part and parcel of the dietary habits of people in the US and in other parts of the world, researchers urge that measures are taken in order to put a leash on the amounts of mercury released into the environment by said activities.

Eurek Alert!
quotes Elsie M. Sunderland, presently working as an Assistant Professor of Aquatic Science at Harvard University, who wished to draw attention to the fact that, “Oceans are home to large tuna and swordfish, which together account for more than half of the mercury intake from seafood for the overall U.S. population.”

The effects of mercury poisoning on an individual's organism include damage to the brain, kidney and lungs.

Still, the good news is that, precisely because oceanic mercury pollution has industrial development as its major drive, it would be fairly simple to improve on the quality of the seafood we have at our disposal simply by better regulating the ecological footprint of various industries.

“Our model estimates show that for the North Atlantic Ocean, a 20% cut in the amount of mercury deposited to the ocean from the atmosphere would lead to about a 16% decline in mercury levels in fish,” explains Charles T. Driscoll, Ph.D. and University Professor of Environmental Systems Engineering at Syracuse University.

“The good news is that the science suggests that if mercury inputs are curtailed, mercury levels in ocean fish will decline and decrease the need for warnings to limit consumption of this globally important food source,” added Celia Y. Chen, Ph.D. and research professor of biological sciences at Dartmouth.
Atmospheric mercury pollution now argued to affect seafood
   Atmospheric mercury pollution now argued to affect seafood
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