|MadSci Network: Environment|
Mercury is a naturally occurring element, but it is being unnaturally dispersed into the air by means such as coal processing and other mining activities. Incineration of certain wastes also causes dispersal of mercury into the air. Mercury is an unusual metal in that it is volatile. It can travel many, many miles before it is deposited onto land or water. When it is deposited onto water bodies or even semi-dry wetlands, it transforms into methyl mercury. It is this form that is so toxic to humans. It is not rocks or soils that are the problem. Methyl mercury is a potent neurotoxin, both to children and adults. It is accumulated by fish as it works up the food chain, i.e., small to large, young to old, and then consumed by humans in fish such as tuna, swordfish and shark. This is by no means a hypothetical problem.
I recommend these web sites for further reading:
And please remember to recycle products that contain mercury, such as
fluorescent light bulbs and thermometers, in an environmentally safe
manner. You will need to consult with your city or county to determine
how they provide for that. However, you can check here as well:
Thanks for asking!
[Moderator's Note: We have additional answers in our archives that discuss the toxic effects of mercury. See for example, 956701002.Me. --SM]
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Environment .