Tag Archive for 'mercury'

Coastal California Fog Carries Toxic Mercury, Study Finds

Photo retrieved from: www.nytimes.com

“Yet over time, the researchers’ analysis suggests, significant amounts of methylmercury could be deposited along the coastline, nearly all of it from fog during the rainless summer months. “This toxic form of mercury is basically raining down in a place where redwood forests, for example, are collecting a lot of fog precipitation,” Dr. Weiss-Penzias said in a telephone interview.

Mercury
, a neurotoxin, occurs naturally in air, water and soil, and coal releases it when it is burned. Bacteria in soil and sediments convert mercury to methylmercury, which is both organic and soluble in water — a potent combination, Dr. Weiss-Penzias said. “It can be in water, taken up by organisms, stored in fatty tissues and cross the blood-brain barrier,” which prevents most other toxins from entering the brain, he explained.

When animals higher up in the food chain eat smaller organisms, they take up methylmercury, too. Moving up the food chain, methylmercury concentrations increase, in a process known as bioaccumulation.”

Read more: The New York Times

The Shocking Republican Attack on the Environment and Our Drinking Water

 

Retrieved from: www.summittotalhealth.com

“This year, residents of Midland, Texas sued Dow Chemical for dangerous levels of hexavalent chromium in their drinking water. Chromium-6 is a cancer-causing chemical made infamous by Julia Roberts’ film, “Erin Brockovich.” There are currently no drinking water standards for chromium-6, and the chemical industry is delaying a new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assessment labeling it a potent carcinogen.

This is far from an isolated scenario, threats to the public drinking water supply are national in scope. From the 1950s to the 1980s, trichloroethylene, a carcinogenic metal degreaser, lurked, undetected, in the drinking water at North Carolina’s Fort Lejeune — affecting up to one million marines and their families.

California’s San Joaquin River and San Francisco Bay Delta are contaminated with selenium and mercury.

Atrazine, an agricultural weedkiller, frequently pollutes groundwater across the Midwest corn-belt.”

Read more: Alternet

 

Predicting the World’s Next Water Pollution Disaster

A worker samples water from a well at a coal bed methane drill site. Photo retrieved from: www.nationalgeographic.com

“Only a tiny fraction of the ore miners exhume contains gold, copper, lead, zinc, or the other metals they’re after. The rest is waste, or tailings, full of large quantities of metals and minerals ranging from benign to very toxic. These fine-grained wastes are often held in tailings ponds that can cover many square miles.

Unfortunately the dams holding tailing ponds aren’t always examples of high-level engineering and, in some countries, may be made by simply bulldozing the tailings themselves into an embankment, explains geologist Johnnie Moore, of the University of Montana.

“There is the potential for huge amounts of [toxic waste] to move into a river system whenever any of those things break, and in fact it does happen,” he said.

Last summer a discharge of acidic waste escaped from a Fujan province copper plant run by China’s largest gold producer, Zijin Mining Group Co. The accident poisoned enough Ting River fish to feed 70,000 people for a year and also contaminated their water supply, according to reports from the Reuters news agency. Two years earlier, runoff from a gold mine near Dadong contaminated the water supply for more than 200,000 people. Over the years, similar disasters have occurred in Spain, Peru, the Philippines, and elsewhere, and there are plenty of other sites in China that scientists have their eye on.

Other toxic processes that use mercury and cyanide to extract valuable minerals from rock create the potential for environmental disaster as well.”

Read more: National Geographic

Why Is the EPA Sitting on Its Ash?

Photo retrieved from: www.motherjones.com

“It has been two years since an earthen dike holding back 1.1 billion gallons of coal slurry ruptured, unleashing a tsunami of dark gray sludge from the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston Fossil Plant in Harriman, Tennessee. The wave destroyed homes, surged into the yards of neighbors, and caused the nearby ponds and streams to overflow. More than 300 acres of land were covered in the stuff, and in the weeks after, the ash would travel as far as 30 miles downstream on the nearby Emory River. Locals refer to the “ash bergs” up to 40 feet tall that landed in their yards and floated down the river.

The environmental disaster for the first time raised the question of why coal-burning power plants are allowed to dump the fly ash waste—the fine, dust-like particles emitted when coal is burned to create power—into vast open pits. The ash, doused with water and left in these containment ponds for years, contains toxic elements like arsenic, mercury, and lead. But for decades, the disposal of the waste was left unregulated. Power plants produce more than 130 million tons of the ash each year, and while 43 percent of it gets recycled into products like cement and wallboard, much of the rest remains on site at coal-fired power plants around the country.”

Read more: Mother Jones

Bromine in the Dead Sea Makes Mercury Above it More Lethal

Researchers thought it only happened at the poles; new research between Israel and the US shows that bromine above the sea can make mercury way more toxic in fish.Photo retrieved from: www.greenprophet.com

“The research, led by scientist Daniel Obrist and colleagues at Nevada’s Desert Research Institute with a group of Israeli researchers at Hebrew University, found that mercury was concentrated into the most toxic form in the air above the Dead Sea.

The atmosphere over the Dead Sea, researchers found, is laden with oxidized mercury, a much more toxic form of Mercury than the elemental form. The finding was surprising, as such high levels of oxidized mercury have only been found at the polar regions.

“We’ve found near-complete depletion of elemental mercury – and formation of some of the highest oxidized mercury levels ever seen – above the Dead Sea, a place where temperatures reach 45 degrees Celsius,” Obrist noted.

The findings are a concern because oxidized mercury threatens the food supply more readily than the elemental form. That is because, once oxidized in what scientists call elemental mercury depletion events – it is then readily deposited on a surface such as the ocean, and can then find its way into the food chain.”

Read more: Green Prophet