Alarming Rise Of Mercury Level In Ocean Water

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By Pooja Bhagat | August 15, 2014 9:17 AM EST

Rise in mercury level has been noted in ocean water. The findings are considered alarming for humans, wildlife and marine life.

A dedicated team of international experts from countries including France, Netherlands and US has found that industrial revolution and other man-made activities have polluted the ocean water considerably.

The mercury level has shot up to 150 per cent more than its normal range in all the layers of ocean water. This is a very alarming situation, which requires immediate scientific intervention.

Mercury is mainly produced as a by-product in various industrial activities, such as fossil fuel combustion and mining. It is definitely toxic in nature for both humans and marine life.

The data has been concluded by testing 12 samples collected over a period of eight years .Mercury level, especially in the upper 100 metres of ocean, have increased many folds since 1700s.

The worst affected areas are the Arctic and North Atlantic oceans.

Rise in level of mercury can be extremely harmful to humans as it can accumulate in the bodies of fish and other edible sea food, which could result in serious troubles. Due to similar apprehensions, doctors have started warning pregnant women against fish and other sea foods.

Dr. Erik van Sebille, an Oceanographer from the University of NSW, explains that mercury is highly toxic. "There has been ways that these organisms have been able to adapt to tiny amounts of mercury, that are naturally occurring in seawater", told Dr. van Sebille.

"The problem is that with the rapid rise of mercury, because of the burning of coal, all of these organisms that live near the surface of the ocean, they are certainly experiencing much higher concentrations of mercury," the doctor added.

If going by the same rate, mercury poisoning can pose a real threat to the future of mankind. Overexposure to mercury in any from can be very harmful. This can result in various symptoms, such as tremors, emotional changes, irritability, nervousness, excessive shyness and insomnia. Neuromuscular changes, such as weakness, muscle atrophy, twitching and headaches, are possible effects as well. In addition, changes in nerve responses and performance deficits on tests of cognitive function are also likely consequences.

Both inorganic and organic mercury compounds are absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract, which then affect other systems. Higher exposures may result in kidney trouble, respiratory failure and even death. 

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