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November 15, 2019 Friday 10:04:10 AM IST

Climate change to cause mercury contamination

Science Innovations

As global 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 beyond.

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.

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