Navigation Links
Mercury on the rise in endangered Pacific seabirds
Date:4/18/2011

Boston, MA Using 120 years of feathers from natural history museums in the United States, Harvard University researchers have been able to track increases in the neurotoxin methylmercury in the black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes), an endangered seabird that forages extensively throughout the Pacific.

The study shows that the observed increase in methylmercury levels, most likely from human-generated emissions, can be observed and tracked over broad time periods in organisms that live in the Pacific Ocean.

The study was published in an online early edition on April 18, 2011, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study has important implications for both environmental and public health, say the authors. "The Pacific in particular warrants high conservation concern as more threatened seabird species inhabit this region than any other ocean," said lead author Anh-Thu Vo, who did her research while an undergraduate at Harvard and is currently a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. "Given both the high levels of methylmercury that we measured in our most recent samples and regional levels of emissions, mercury bioaccumulation and toxicity may undermine reproductive effort in this species and other long-lived, endangered seabirds."

The researchers collected feathers from black-footed albatross specimens in the Harvard University Museum of Comparative Zoology and the University of Washington Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture and analyzed methylmercury in samples from 1880 to 2002. They found increasing levels of methylmercury that were generally consistent with historical global and recent regional increases in anthropogenic mercury emissions.

"Methylmercury has no benefit to animal life and we are starting to find high levels in endangered and sensitive species across marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems, indicating that mercury pollution and its subsequent chemical reactions in the environment may be important factors in species population declines," said study co-author Michael Bank, a research associate in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

"Using these historic bird feathers, in a way, represents the memory of the ocean, and our findings serve as a window to the historic and current conditions of the Pacific, a critical fishery for human populations," said Bank. Consumption of mercury-tainted fish from the Pacific Ocean is an important source of human exposure to methylmercury in the United States and may lead to adverse neurodevelopment effects in children, he added. "Much of the mercury pollution issue is really about how much society values wild animal populations, yet we are also faced with the tremendous public health challenge of communicating potential risks from mercury exposure to vulnerable adult and child human populations. Although most people have low or no risk from mercury exposure, for the people who are at risk, for example, from excessive fish consumption, the problem can be considerable," said Bank.


'/>"/>

Contact: Todd Datz
tdatz@hsph.harvard.edu
617-432-8413
Harvard School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Bacterial genome may hold answers to mercury mystery
2. Researchers from Hebrew U., US discover how mercury gets into fish we eat
3. End of an era: NIST to cease calibrating mercury thermometers
4. Mercury in Bay Area fish a legacy of California mining
5. Eggs show arctic mercury cycling may be linked to ice cover
6. Natural dissolved organic matter plays dual role in cycling of mercury
7. Succimer found ineffective for removing mercury
8. Study: Fish near coal-fired power plants have lower levels of mercury
9. Why mercury is more dangerous in oceans
10. Mercury levels are increasing in popular species of game fish in Lake Erie
11. Mercury is higher in some tuna species, according to DNA barcoding
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/13/2017)... Calif. , April 13, 2017 UBM,s ... York will feature emerging and evolving technology ... Both Innovation Summits will run alongside the expo portion ... speaker sessions, panels and demonstrations focused on trending topics ... largest advanced design and manufacturing event will take place ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. , April 11, ... biometric identity management and secure authentication solutions, today ... million contract by Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity ... technologies for IARPA,s Thor program. "Innovation ... the onset and IARPA,s Thor program will allow ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... BROOKLYN, N.Y. , April 11, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ ... identical fingerprints, but researchers at the New York ... University College of Engineering have found that partial ... fingerprint-based security systems used in mobile phones and ... previously thought. The vulnerability lies in ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... partners with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries to improve patient outcomes and quality ... Several trends in analytical testing are being attributed to new regulatory requirements for ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... ComplianceOnline’s Medical Device Summit is ... and 8th June 2018 in San Francisco, CA. The Summit brings together current and ... distinguished CEOs, board directors and government officials from around the world to address key ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... A new study published in ... and fresh in vitro fertilization (IVF) transfer cycles. The multi-center matched ... , After comparing the results from the fresh and frozen transfer cohorts, the ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... Dr. Bob Harman, founder and CEO ... Diego Rotary Club. The event entitled “Stem Cells and Their Regenerative ... attendees. Dr. Harman, DVM, MPVM was joined by two human doctors: Peter B. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: