Mercury Levels in the Environment

Erik Stokstad, writing for AAAS:

Peter Buckley, Flickr

Peter Buckley, Flickr

The most comprehensive estimate of mercury released into the environment is putting a new spotlight on the potent neurotoxin. By accounting for mercury in consumer products, such as thermostats, and released by industrial processes, the calculations more than double previous tallies of the amount of mercury that has entered the environment since 1850. The analysis also reveals a previously unknown spike in mercury emissions during the 1970s.

The finding doesn’t indicate a greater risk to human health; scientists already know how much mercury most people are exposed to. But it does show how tighter regulations over the past 4 decades have lowered the total amount of mercury emitted to the global environment—even as some industries in the developing world continue to expand.

When you use mercury, careful you must be. For the mercury poisons back.”