Oct 29 - Scientist Develop Means to Track Mercury Pollution to its Source

Scientists have developed a way to trace mercury in the environment back to the emission source using a form of chemical signature analysis. Airborne mercury can travel vast distances. Industry has fought regulation in the past because laws to curb emissions in the US would have little impact on contamination that may or may not have originated across national boundaries. Determining where mercury contaminations originate will give governments better tools to develop and tailor regulations to help curb mercury exposure. Moises Velasquez-Manoff of the Christian Science Monitor reports:

"It’s very important to be able to identify the source.… That’s probably the kind of direct evidence that is needed to implement change," says Celia Chen, a research professor at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. "If it’s just this global pool, nobody has to be held accountable for it."

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Mercury is toxic to humans and can damage vital organs. Although small levels of mercury occur naturally, human activity has released massive levels into the environment. Compounding this problem is the fact that mercury bio-accumulates in the tissues of animals that we consume.

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