Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mercury Pollution Causes Immune Damage To Harbor Seals

Date:
October 24, 2008
Source:
Environmental Health
Summary:
Methylmercury, the predominant form of mercury found in the blood of marine mammals and fish-eating communities, could be more damaging to seals than has previously been thought. New research shows that MeHg harms T-lymphocytes, key cells in a seal's immune system. Similar results were also found for human lymphocytes.

Harbor seal swimming.
Credit: iStockphoto/Andy Raatz

Methylmercury (MeHg), the predominant form of mercury found in the blood of marine mammals and fish-eating communities, could be more damaging to seals than has previously been thought. New research shows that MeHg harms T-lymphocytes, key cells in a seal's immune system. Similar results were also found for human lymphocytes.

Related Articles


Mercury exposure is known to occur as a result of man-made pollution and natural events such as volcanic eruptions.

According to the lead author of this study, Krishna Das of the Université de Liège, Belgium, "Mercury is known to bioaccumulate and to magnify in marine mammals, which is a cause of great concern in terms of their general health. In particular, the immune system is known to be susceptible to long-term mercury exposure". In order to determine the scale of this problem, the authors carried out analysis of the blood mercury levels of harbour seals caught in the North Sea and tested the effects of MeHg in lab experiments.

By applying increasing doses of MeHg to lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, the authors determined that the amount of mercury found in the blood of the seals studied was enough to cause damage to the important immune system cells. They said, "Although the in vitro approach utilised in this investigation represents an extreme reductionism relative to the complex situation in the intact organism, it provides an insight into the specific effects of mercury pollution."

Immune system damage may already have taken a toll on the population of harbour seals. The 1998 and 2002 outbreaks of phocine distemper virus, known to have killed thousands of seals, were linked to the deleterious effects of pollution on the seals' ability to fight the infection.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Krishna Das, Ursula Siebert, Audrey Gillet, Aurélie Dupont, Carole Di-Poi, Sonja Fonfara, Gabriel Mazzucchelli, Edwin De Pauw and Marie-Claire De Pauw-Gillet. Mercury immune toxicity in harbour seals: links to in vitro toxicity. Environmental Health, (in press)

Cite This Page:

Environmental Health. "Mercury Pollution Causes Immune Damage To Harbor Seals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081020191532.htm>.
Environmental Health. (2008, October 24). Mercury Pollution Causes Immune Damage To Harbor Seals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081020191532.htm
Environmental Health. "Mercury Pollution Causes Immune Damage To Harbor Seals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081020191532.htm (accessed February 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nanoscale Sensor Could Help Wine Producers and Clinical Scientists

Nanoscale Sensor Could Help Wine Producers and Clinical Scientists

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 30, 2015) — A nanosensor that mimics the oral effects and sensations of drinking wine has been developed by Danish and Portuguese researchers. Jim Drury saw it in operation. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dog-Loving Astronaut Wins Best Photo of 2015

Dog-Loving Astronaut Wins Best Photo of 2015

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) — Retired astronaut and television host, Leland Melvin, snuck his dogs into the NASA studio so they could be in his official photo. As Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) shows us, the secret is out. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) — The U.S. has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rarest Cat on Planet Caught Attacking Monkeys on Camera

Rarest Cat on Planet Caught Attacking Monkeys on Camera

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) — An African Golden Cat, the rarest large cat on the planet was recently caught on camera by scientists trying to study monkeys. The cat comes out of nowhere to attack those monkeys. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) has the rest. Video provided by Buzz60
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