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A New Source of Methylmercury Entering the Pacific Ocean

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posted on May, 27 2009 @ 09:28 AM

A U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist and his university colleagues have discovered a new source of methylmercury entering the waters of the eastern North Pacific Ocean. Consumption of ocean fish and shellfish account for over 90 percent of human methylmercury exposure in the United States, and tuna harvested in the Pacific Ocean account for 40 percent of this total exposure (Sunderland, 2007). Given the obvious importance of marine food webs to human methylmercury exposure, scientists were still trying to answer the question - where do fish, such as Pacific Ocean tuna, acquire their methylmercury? The findings of these scientists published in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles, might be a major step forward toward solving this mystery.

Here's some information on Methylmercury:

Divalent mercury (Hg(II)) can combine with sulfur, oxygen, and chlorine to form mercury salts. Mercuric chloride (HgCl2), which has been used as a preservative for water-quality samples for nutrient analysis, can cause gastrointestinal and kidney problems. Mercury sulfide (HgS) is the mineral cinnabar, which is mined as a source for mercury.

Organic mercury is mercury that has formed compounds with carbon. Methylmercury is the most common example of this form of mercury. Phenylmercury and dimethylmercury are other examples of organic mercury that had medical and commercial uses. They are rarely found in the environment. Methylmercury and ethylmercury compounds were once used as fungicides; however, their use was banned in the 1970s due to their adverse health effects.

Hopefully these new findings will help us understand how this dangerous compound gets into our bodies.

posted on May, 27 2009 @ 09:54 AM
reply to post by Tentickles

Your ATS whereabouts should have sent onto my frinds list a couple of months back.

Now that i see your environmental concerns i cannot help but adding you as a friend. I am absolutely possitive now that you are worth it !

Insn't it amazingly dissapointing and incomprehensive how much we are still abusing the plannet and the rest of Earthlings?

EDIT: To also say hi and all the best!

[edit on 27/5/2009 by GEORGETHEGREEK]

posted on May, 27 2009 @ 10:03 AM

But the area is filled with something besides plankton: trash, millions of pounds of it, most of it plastic. It's the largest landfill in the world, and it floats in the middle of the ocean.

great pacific garbage patch

In some areas, the amount of plastic outweighs the amount of plankton by a ratio of six to one


because of the complex chemical nature of plastics, its highly doubtful that plastic is causing the chemical bonding of methane into methymercury, but who knows whats inside some of the plastic chemical containers.

[edit on 27-5-2009 by drsmooth23]

posted on May, 27 2009 @ 10:22 AM
reply to post by Tentickles

I think it's pretty rotten that we have collectively done this to the ocean. I will be very interested in the findings of this. I wonder what exactly and WHERE exactly this stuff is coming from.

posted on May, 27 2009 @ 12:09 PM
It sounds like it's coming from trace amounts of mercury present in fossil fuels, which get released to the atmosphere when combusted.

This is then precipitated into the ocean where it's being converted from inorganic mercury to organic methyl mercury by biological processes.

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