Groundbreaking Canada-US study proves link between emissions and mercury pollution in fish

September 17, 2007

A groundbreaking environmental study to be published in a prestigious American science journal proves that mercury atmospheric emissions will end up in fish in as little as three years. Biologists from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, played a key role in designing and carrying out the experiment.

The study concludes that if mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants and other industrial activities were to be cut immediately, the amount showing up in fish would begin to go down within a decade.

It will appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America online edition next week.

This breakthrough study (called METAALICUS - Mercury Experiment to Assess Atmospheric Loading in Canada and the United States) involved government agencies and universities on both sides of the border. It has global implications.

"Before this study, no one had directly linked atmospheric deposition (mercury emissions) and mercury in fish," says study co-author Vincent St. Louis of the University of Alberta.

The experiment filled a major gap in scientists' understanding of how mercury moves from the atmosphere through forests, soils, lakes and into the fish that people eat.

Its immediate value is that it provides undeniable proof of a direct link, said St. Louis, who specializes in what is called whole-ecosystem experimentation.

He said it should spur policy-makers to enact regulations for more rapid reductions in mercury emissions by industry.

"We can say conclusively that if you reduce mercury emissions it will result in less mercury in fish."
-end-


University of Alberta

Related Mercury Articles from Brightsurf:

Mercury's 400 C heat may help it make its own ice
Despite Mercury's 400 C daytime heat, there is ice at its caps, and now a study shows how that Vulcan scorch probably helps the planet closest to the sun make some of that ice.

New potential cause of Minamata mercury poisoning identified
One of the world's most horrific environmental disasters--the 1950 and 60s mercury poisoning in Minamata, Japan--may have been caused by a previously unstudied form of mercury discharged directly from a chemical factory, research by the University of Saskatchewan (USask) has found.

New nanomaterial to replace mercury
Ultraviolet light is used to kill bacteria and viruses, but UV lamps contain toxic mercury.

Wildfire ash could trap mercury
In the summers of 2017 and 2018, heat waves and drought conditions spawned hundreds of wildfires in the western US and in November, two more devastating wildfires broke out in California, scorching thousands of acres of forest, destroying homes and even claiming lives.

Removing toxic mercury from contaminated water
Water which has been contaminated with mercury and other toxic heavy metals is a major cause of environmental damage and health problems worldwide.

Fish can detox too -- but not so well, when it comes to mercury
By examining the tissues at a subcellular level, the researchers discovered yelloweye rockfish were able to immobilize several potentially toxic elements within their liver tissues (cadmium, lead, and arsenic) thus preventing them from interacting with sensitive parts of the cell.

Chemists disproved the universal nature of the mercury test
The mercury test of catalysts that has been used and considered universal for 100 years, turned out to be ambiguous.

Mercury rising: Are the fish we eat toxic?
Canadian researchers say industrial sea fishing may be exposing people in coastal and island nations to excessively high levels of mercury.

New estimates of Mercury's thin, dense crust
Michael Sori, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona, used careful mathematical calculations to determine the density of Mercury's crust, which is thinner than anyone thought.

Understanding Mercury's magnetic tail
Theoretical physicists used simulations to explain the unusual readings collected in 2009 by the Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging mission.

Read More: Mercury News and Mercury Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.