The researchers, Prof. Menachem Luria from the Fredy and Nadine Herrmann Institute of Earth Sciences at the Hebrew University and Dr. Daniel Obrist of the University of Nevada, found that “passive” mercury normally found in the atmosphere is converted into an “active,” oxidized form in the presence of bromine. The passive mercury is generally non-transferable, whereas the active form is readily absorbed into the environment.
The air over the Dead Sea was chosen for the experiments on mercury oxidation – even though it does not contain any fish – since it has unusually high levels of bromine that is emitted from the surface into the atmosphere, converting the mercury there into the oxidized mercury.
“In the world generally, the amount of oxidized mercury in the atmosphere constitutes about one percent of all the mercury in the atmosphere,” said Prof. Luria, “while above the Dead Sea the oxidized mercury often amounts up to about 50 percent.”
In fact, the bromine in the air over the Dead Sea is 200 times greater than over other bodies of water, say the researchers, due not only to the high level of bromine present on the surface but also to the high rate of its evaporation into the atmosphere because of the very high temperatures there. It is important to note, they emphasize, that this process of conversion of passive into active mercury occurs over all bodies of water, even though it may be at much lower levels than at the Dead Sea.
Although health officials in the world have issued warnings from time to time about the danger of mercury found in fish, the process by which the inactive mercury is converted into the active, oxidized form was previously unknown. The current research has now revealed how this occurs, with the resultant introduction of this dangerous, active form of mercury into the fish food chain and ultimately into humans through the consumption of sea food.
The research by Prof. Luria and Obrist was supported by the National Science Foundation of the US, and the results were published in Nature Geoscience Journal. This is the latest of numerous research projects conducted in the Dead Sea area, which serves as a natural laboratory for a long list of biological-chemical and geophysical research projects, commented Prof. Luria.
Jerry Barach | Hebrew University
How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism
19.01.2018 | Weill Cornell Medicine
Researchers identify new way to unmask melanoma cells to the immune system
17.01.2018 | Duke University Medical Center
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy