The dark legacy of mercury in the environment

The dark legacy of mercury in the environment

Mercury pollution caused in some places more than two thousand years by human activities even today remains at significant levels. This unwanted legacy that past civilizations have left is an example from which we can leave to future society if there are no effective measures to mitigate mercury pollution .

A group of environmental researchers at Harvard University in Cambridge , United States , has presented evidence that prove to be necessary to promote significant reductions in mercury emissions to stabilize at current levels of toxic elements in the environment.

” This is easier said than done , but we are advocating aggressive reductions , and better sooner than later ,” says Helen Amos , co-author of the study.

She and her colleagues have been collecting historical data on mercury emissions to 2000 BC , and concocting new environmental models of the mercury cycle comprising the interactions between the atmosphere , sea and land.

His research reveals that most of the mercury released into the environment ends up in the ocean after a few decades , and remains there for centuries or even millennia. Currently, the emissions come mainly from coal-fired power plants , and gold mining more good craftsmanship. Thrown into the air, falling with rain on lakes , absorbed by the earth , or transported by rivers , mercury eventually finds its way to the sea. In aquatic ecosystems , microbes turn it into methylmercury , the organic compound that accumulates in fish and thus may end up ending up on our plates . Methylmercury has been associated with neurological and cardiovascular damage .

It is generally assumed that mercury pollution began with the Industrial Revolution, but in reality , humans have been emitting mercury into the environment from thousands of years ago.

The ancient Greeks and Chinese used mercury as a pigment ; mercury found in graves belongings within circa 2000 BC , and it is believed that the Assyrians used much mercury as cinnabar ( the bright red mineral in the that mercury is found naturally ) since 1900 BC . In the year 1570 AD, Spanish settlers in South America and Central America used it to extract silver , 300 years later , the Mercury again played an important role in the gold rush in California.

About 60 percent of the mercury that is currently deposited in the atmosphere comes from human activities in the past. Only 13 percent of the actual deposition of mercury has a natural origin . The remaining 27 percent comes from emissions from current human activities.

The environmental releases and recycles naturally a certain amount of mercury , extracting it from rocks with each volcanic eruption. But the new model developed at Harvard University suggests that humans have been and continue to be, responsible for most of the mercury that is currently in the atmosphere , land and sea.

Vous aimerez aussi...

Laisser un commentaire

Votre adresse de messagerie ne sera pas publiée. Les champs obligatoires sont indiqués avec *

Ce site utilise Akismet pour réduire les indésirables. En savoir plus sur comment les données de vos commentaires sont utilisées.