Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Alarming Levels Of Mercury And Arsenic Found In Chinese Freshwater Ecosystem

Date:
January 10, 2008
Source:
Dartmouth College
Summary:
Scientists have found potentially dangerous levels of mercury and arsenic in Lake Baiyangdian, the largest lake in the North China Plain and a source of both food and drinking water for the people who live around it.

A team of researchers, led by biologists at Dartmouth, has found potentially dangerous levels of mercury and arsenic in Lake Baiyangdian, the largest lake in the North China Plain and a source of both food and drinking water for the people who live around it.

Related Articles


The researchers studied three separate locations in Lake Baiyangdian, all at varying distances from major sources of pollution, such as coal emissions, agricultural runoff, and sewage discharge. They found concentrations of arsenic and mercury in fish were above the threshold considered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to pose a risk to humans and wildlife.

"It's important to study this system because it is typical of many throughout China where human activity and industrialization are having detrimental effects on the environment with major human health implications," says Celia Chen '78, a research associate professor of biological sciences. "It makes perfect sense to apply what we're learning about lakes in the U.S. to other places in the world, like China, that have a growing global impact."

Chen and her team were curious to learn how arsenic and mercury, two toxic environmental metals, moved through the food web in a freshwater ecosystem known to be polluted and contaminated. In a process called bioaccumulation, mercury and arsenic were found throughout the food web, from the water, into the algae, through the tiny algae-eating zooplankton, to the fish. As expected, the researchers found that more nutrient-rich environments supported larger algal blooms, which resulted in lower concentrations of mercury and arsenic in the water due to uptake by the algae.

In their previous work, the researchers found that when there is a lot of algae present, mercury and arsenic are biodiluted, or more dispersed, so zooplankton that eat the algae are exposed to lower levels of the metals and transfer less to fish.

"Despite this potential interaction - a decrease in bioaccumulation due to high algal biomass - the mercury and arsenic in this system are high enough to be of concern to humans and wildlife that drink the water and consume fish," says Chen. "For example, we saw arsenic levels in the water that represent more than fifty times the EPA-recommended limit for consumption of fish and shellfish."

Chen's co-authors include Carol Folt, dean of the faculty and professor of biological sciences at Dartmouth, Paul Pickhardt at Lakeland College, and M.Q. Xu at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. Chen and Folt are both affiliated with Dartmouth's Center for Environmental Health Sciences and its Toxic Metals Research Program. Funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences supported this work.

The findings were published online on Dec. 24, 2007, in the journal Water, Air, and Soil Pollution.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Dartmouth College. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Dartmouth College. "Alarming Levels Of Mercury And Arsenic Found In Chinese Freshwater Ecosystem." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080109173741.htm>.
Dartmouth College. (2008, January 10). Alarming Levels Of Mercury And Arsenic Found In Chinese Freshwater Ecosystem. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080109173741.htm
Dartmouth College. "Alarming Levels Of Mercury And Arsenic Found In Chinese Freshwater Ecosystem." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080109173741.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — An invisible barrier is keeping dangerous super fast electrons from interfering with our atmosphere, but scientists aren't entirely sure how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins