“Up to now a direct link has been difficult to establish because of all the other factors that affect mercury levels in fish and large pools of mercury already in the environment,” said lead author Reed Harris of Tetra Tech. “By adding stable mercury isotopes to an entire ecosystem for several years, our team was able to zero in on the effects of changing atmospheric mercury deposition.”
“The results were very dramatic,” said co-author Dr. Andrew Heyes of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. “Using the stable isotope approach has revealed a great deal about the cycling of mercury in watersheds. We look forward to continuing our study to provide guidance in mitigating the legacy left by the years of high mercury deposition.”
To directly test the response of fish contamination to changing mercury deposition, researchers conducted a whole-ecosystem experiment, increasing the mercury load to a lake and its watershed by the addition of enriched stable mercury isotopes. The isotopes allowed the team to distinguish between experimentally applied mercury and mercury already present in the ecosystem and to examine bioaccumulation of mercury deposited to different parts of the watershed. Fish methylmercury concentrations responded rapidly to changes in mercury deposition over the first three years of study.
“This is good news. It means that a reduction in new mercury loads to many lakes should result in lower mercury in fish within a few years,” added Cynthia Gilmour of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and University of Maryland MEES participating faculty. Harris went on to say “The study shows the clear benefits of regulating mercury emissions, and the near-term effectiveness of emission reductions.”
Mercury levels in the environment have increased several-fold on a global scale since pre-industrial times due to emissions from coal-fired power plants, metal smelting, and other sources. Mercury is persistent in the environment, and toxic to humans and wildlife. There are currently thousands of advisories against eating fish from lakes in both Canada and the United States.
Christopher Conner | EurekAlert!
Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München
Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Earth Sciences