Earth's Cycle of Mercury
Mercury is like any other natural element; it has an ongoing life cycle. After being released into the environment it settles eventually in bodies of water or on land. Whatever settles on the ground can be washed off into water. Once the mercury is deposited into water certain microorganisms can transform mercury into a highly toxic form, called methylmercury, which accumulates in fish, shellfish, and then animals that eat fish.
The real problem is that our air is constantly moving from one place to another as well as our aquatic organisms. If the US stops mercury emissions completely and China doesn’t, Americans will still be affected by mercury poisoning. We have to act as one. Mercury regulations should be global.
Humans are exposed to methylmercury mainly by eating fish and shellfish. Methylmercury levels vary in different fish and shellfish. Another way of exposure to mercury is breathing mercury vapor. That is less common but occurs when objects containing mercury break and release it into the air.
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Created by Portland State Multimedia Capstone Winter 2015