Here’s How Mercury Ends Up in the Sea: New Study Explains

Here’s How Mercury Ends Up in the Sea: New Study Explains
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Did you know that high amounts of mercury released into the atmosphere by industry end up in the sea, reaching the food chain?

A new study concluded by the University of Basel based on a thorough analysis warns us about the danger mercury triggers and other predictions.

Here is what you need to know.

Mercury Threatens the Sea Life

Annually, 2,000 metric tons of gaseous mercury are cleared into the atmosphere by mining activities and coal-powered stations. Measures to lower mercury emissions could take effect quicker than previously believed.

The dangerous substance can take different chemical forms as it ‘travels’ between the air, soil, and water in a twisted cycle. But mercury is more harmful in the sea.

The reason?

A team of researchers examined the case of mercury in the sea and released new data.

Study insights

According to the new data, human activities have actually tripled the amount of mercury in the surface ocean. And that since the beginning of industrialization.

Martin Jiskra is a biochemist at the University of Basel. He joined forces with colleagues from Aix-Marseille University and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) to find more about mercury dangers.

Jiskra examined seawater samples via a novel technique that let researchers determine whether mercury reached the sea via gas exchange or comes from precipitation. Such a method is highly known as fingerprinting.

Most of the data were collected off the coast of Marseille, while other samples were collected in the North Atlantic.

The findings

Researchers discovered that only around half of the mercury in the sea comes from precipitation, which is genuinely intriguing.

The other half ends up in the oceans due to the uptake of gaseous mercury. Jiskra believes that mercury uptake by plants triggers more of this dangerous substance to be stored on land, staying in soils, well-preserved, threatening our lives.

“If less mercury enters the sea via rainfall, a reduction in emissions could cause mercury levels in seawater to drop faster than anticipated,” explained Jiskra.

The new data is significant and could help researchers develop better plans to protect oceans and people.


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Georgia Nica

Writing was, and still is, my first passion. I love games, mobile gadgets, and all that cool stuff about technology and science. I’ll try my best to bring you the best news every day.

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