What Are The Sources Of Exposure To Mercury In The Environment?

Land that is contaminated with mercury.
Land that is contaminated with mercury.

What Is Mercury?

Mercury is a dangerous heavy metal found in air, soil, and water in different forms depending on the position where it is found. It is a global pollutant because of its natural circulation, which has led to the creation of awareness internationally. The awareness helps to organise ways of reducing mercury emissions caused by human activities and getting rid of mercury contamination.

Sources Of Exposure

Large amounts of anthropogenic mercury are set free into the ocean with almost half of it settling in the shallow sea. The shallow sea is where most of the edible fish are found. Therefore, mercury accumulates biologically in seafood chains. The accumulation occurs in dangerous form, methyl mercury, which leads to health associated problems when consumed. Therefore, this the principal form of exposure because up to 66% of fish eaten by human beings is from the ocean. Sources like the production of cement waste from consumer products and contaminated sites lead to exposure in fewer percentages.

Health Effects

Mercury pollution in the ocean causes severe danger to the health of a human being. Consumption of mercury by individuals of all ages leads to weak muscles, poor vision, inability to coordinate movement, and weakening of the ability to hear and speak. In young and growing children, mercury exposure is more peril because it slows the proper growth of the brain and nervous system. Hence, it destroys memory, intellectual thinking, and leads to inability to develop language, and mental focus

In addition, mercury pollution in oceans threatens the health of animals. A typical example of this threat was the brutal mercury pollution in Minamata Bay. Many animals showed unique characteristics and risen death rates followed after eating polluted seafood and engrossing mercury through seawater. Birds in this region fell from the sky and fish swam in circles. Zebrafish died after being exposed to mercury for 24 hours. They also experienced deformation of the tail, laying fewer eggs, and reduced tail movement capability.

Prevention/Solution Of Mercury Contamination

Synthesised aluminium oxide (AL2O3), which imitates corals, is used to soak up excessive poison due to the coral's high surface area, quality and volume ratio. Corals nature, that is, surface structure can absorb heavy iron metals. Corals also help to remove mercury in the ocean. Another strategy of preventing mercury pollution is carrying out policies and cleaning procedures aimed at reducing the use of mercury. For instance, reducing the use of coal as a source of energy and using other clean sources, minimising gold mining in small-scale industries, treating industrial waste in proper ways, etc. This goal is efficient public awareness.

Appropriate dumping of materials containing mercury, for example, thermometers and packing of medicine, is another policy. Moreover, mercury exposure can be reduced by using batteries and bulbs that are free from mercury and buying products used by human beings without or with less mercury. These policies help in making the globe's ecosystem free from mercury pollution and minimise discharges into the ocean. Hence, the future generation would be less exposed to mercury.


More in Environment