New study finds high levels of mercury in the Pacific Ocean

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Scientists say mercury levels in the Pacific Ocean are even higher than some places directly contaminated with the toxic chemical

The amount of mercury that has been found in this area is actually After than ever recorded in the ocean. It is even higher than in many areas contaminated by industrial releases of the toxic chemical.

An international team from Denmark, Canada, Germany and Japan looked at the health of the ocean – up to 10 kilometers under the sea.

Why is mercury dangerous in the ocean?

It is a liquid, silvery metal, which can be immensely beautiful to observe. But if it gets in and accumulates in the bodies of fish, then do humans eat that fish? This means that we are then ingesting a toxic chemical.

There is some mercury in all foods, but too much can have harmful effects on your health.

Why is mercury dangerous in the human body?

According to the WHO, inhaling mercury vapors can have harmful effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys, and can be fatal. Inorganic mercury salts are corrosive to the skin, eyes and gastrointestinal tract and may induce kidney toxicity if ingested.

They further explain: “Neurological and behavioral disorders can be observed after inhalation, ingestion or dermal exposure of different mercury compounds. Symptoms include tremors, insomnia, memory loss, neuromuscular effects, headaches, and cognitive and motor dysfunction. Mild subclinical signs of central nervous system toxicity may be observed in workers exposed to elemental mercury in air of 20 μg / m3 or more for several years.

“Effects on the kidneys have been reported, ranging from increased protein in the urine to kidney failure.”

‘Representative of the collective increase in anthropogenic emissions’

Lead author Professor Hamed Sanei, director of the Lithospheric Organic Carbon (LOC) Laboratory at the Department of Geosciences at Aarhus University, said: “The bad news is that these high levels of mercury may be representative of the collective increase in anthropogenic Hg emissions in our oceans.

“But the good news is that ocean trenches act as a permanent dumping ground, so we can expect the mercury in them to be buried for millions of years. Plate tectonics will transport these sediments deep into the earth’s upper mantle.

“But even if the mercury is removed from the biosphere, the amount of mercury that has ended up in ocean trenches is still quite alarming. It can be an indicator of the overall health of our oceans. “

Possible changes in the way mercury is eliminated from the environment?

Co-author Dr Peter Outridge, Research Scientist at Natural Resources Canada and lead author of the United Nations Global Mercury Assessment, commented: “The results of this research help fill a key knowledge gap in the cycle. mercury, that is to say the real rate. removal of mercury from the global environment in deep seabed sediments.

“We have shown that sediments in ocean trenches are ‘hot spots’ of mercury accumulation, with mercury accumulation rates several times higher than previously believed.”

Co-author Ronnie Glud, professor and director of the Hadal Center at the University of Southern Denmark, commented: “This paper calls for additional extensive sampling of ocean depths and in particular of the hadal trenches to support this preliminary work. Ultimately, this will improve the accuracy of environmental mercury models and the management of global mercury pollution. “

Read the full study here.

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