Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mercury converted to its most toxic form in ocean waters

Date:
April 27, 2011
Source:
University of Alberta
Summary:
New research has confirmed that a relatively harmless inorganic form of mercury found worldwide in ocean water is transformed into a potent neurotoxin in the seawater itself.

University of Alberta-led research has confirmed that a relatively harmless inorganic form of mercury found worldwide in ocean water is transformed into a potent neurotoxin in the seawater itself.

Related Articles


After two years of testing water samples across the Arctic Ocean, the researchers found that relatively harmless inorganic mercury, released from human activities like industry and coal burning, undergoes a process called methylation and becomes deadly monomethylmercury.

Unlike inorganic mercury, monomethylmercury is bio-accumulative, meaning its toxic effects are amplified as it progresses through the food chain from small sea creatures to humans. The greatest exposure for humans to monomethylmercury is through seafood. The researchers believe the methylation process happens in oceans all over the world and that the conversion is carried out by microbial life forms in the ocean.

The research team, led by recent U of A biological sciences PhD graduate Igor Lehnherr, incubated seawater samples collected from the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Lehnherr says conversion of inorganic mercury to monomethylmercury accounts for approximately 50 per cent of this neurotoxin present in polar marine waters and could account for a significant amount of the mercury found in Arctic marine organisms. The researchers say this is the first direct evidence that inorganic mercury is methylated in seawater.

The research was published earlier this month online in Nature Geoscience.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Igor Lehnherr, Vincent L. St. Louis, Holger Hintelmann, Jane L. Kirk. Methylation of inorganic mercury in polar marine waters. Nature Geoscience, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1134

Cite This Page:

University of Alberta. "Mercury converted to its most toxic form in ocean waters." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110427131935.htm>.
University of Alberta. (2011, April 27). Mercury converted to its most toxic form in ocean waters. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110427131935.htm
University of Alberta. "Mercury converted to its most toxic form in ocean waters." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110427131935.htm (accessed April 19, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 17, 2015) A truck carrying honey bees overturns near Lynnwood, Washington, spreading boxes of live bees across the highway. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dog Flu Spreading in Midwestern States

Dog Flu Spreading in Midwestern States

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Dog flu is spreading in several Midwestern states. Dog daycare centers and veterinary offices are taking precautions. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rare Whale Spotted in Gulf of Mexico

Raw: Rare Whale Spotted in Gulf of Mexico

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers from the E/V Nautilus had quite a surprise Tuesday, when a curious sperm whale swam around their remotely operated vehicle in the Gulf of Mexico. Cameras captured the encounter. (April 17) Video provided by AP
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