|The droplet of mercury shown in this
slide is about 1 gram; which is the total amount that is
deposited annually on a lake in northern Wisconsin with
a surface area of 27 acres.
|Concern and awareness is growing about adverse health
effects resulting from exposures to environmental contaminants.
Mercury is a metal that has provoked substantial concern.
Mercury is found in various forms including elemental mercury,
inorganic mercury compounds, and organic mercury compounds
such as methyl mercury. Mercury is a persistent pollutant
that exists naturally in the environment. However, levels
have risen because of human activity and pollution.
|Inorganic mercury is biotransformed into organic mercury
through the course of environmental uptake. Much attention is given
to organic methyl mercury because it bioaccumulates as it moves
up the food chain and is harmful to humans. Methyl mercury that
is released into waterways accumulates in fish, leading forty-one
states to advise anglers to limit their wild fish consumption. In
other parts of the world, notably Japan, New Zealand, Canada and
South America, the consumption of contaminated fish has caused widespread