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.
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.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Hazardous waste is just that – hazardous. Many states require that this type of waste is processed and disposed properly. The hazardous waste that you generate is often distinguished as household hazardous waste, or HHW, because industrial hazardous waste is handled in a different manner. Many cities have HHW facilities where you can drop off and pick up safe materials so they don’t end up in the landfill.
Find your local disposal
solution for HHW
Does Gasoline Go Bad?
BARRY ASKED: I received a call from my friend who was cleaning out his garage and came across an old can that had gasoline in it that was likely several years old and spoiled if gasoline spoils. How does he properly dispose of the gasoline and what should he do with the container?
WE FOUND THE ANSWER: It’s true. Gasoline does have an expiration date. Most ethanol-blend fuels have a shelf life of about three months, so chances are that your friend’s gasoline is definitely unusable… in his car that is.
This is because ethanol is hygroscopic, meaning that it will absorb … read more
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