Climate change to cause mercury contamination
temperatures continue to rise, the thawing of permafrost in Arctic areas is
being accelerated and mercury that has been trapped in the frozen ground is now
being released in various forms into surrounding waterways, soil and air.
According to researchers at the University of New Hampshire, this process can
result in the major transformation of the mercury into more mobile and
potentially toxic forms that can lead to environmental consequences and health
concerns for wildlife, the fishing industry and people in the Arctic and
Researchers found that as the landscape changes
due to warming temperatures, there is significant increase in the levels of methylmercury,
a neurotoxin that could affect indigenous people if they eat methylmercury-contaminated
birds and fish. The fishing industrycould be affected if the mercury is flushed
out of the watershed into the ocean. Mercury, released during thaw, can be
carried by both water and wind - often very far away from its original source.