Mercury in the Environment and Water Supply




Mercury Analysis (Univ. of Alberta)














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 health problems.