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Publication Detail

Title: Mercury biogeochemical cycling in the ocean and policy implications.

Authors: Mason, Robert P; Choi, Anna L; Fitzgerald, William F; Hammerschmidt, Chad R; Lamborg, Carl H; Soerensen, Anne L; Sunderland, Elsie M

Published In Environ Res, (2012 Nov)

Abstract: Anthropogenic activities have enriched mercury in the biosphere by at least a factor of three, leading to increases in total mercury (Hg) in the surface ocean. However, the impacts on ocean fish and associated trends in human exposure as a result of such changes are less clear. Here we review our understanding of global mass budgets for both inorganic and methylated Hg species in ocean seawater. We consider external inputs from atmospheric deposition and rivers as well as internal production of monomethylmercury (CHýýýHg) and dimethylmercury ((CHýýý)ýýýHg). Impacts of large-scale ocean circulation and vertical transport processes on Hg distribution throughout the water column and how this influences bioaccumulation into ocean food chains are also discussed. Our analysis suggests that while atmospheric deposition is the main source of inorganic Hg to open ocean systems, most of the CHýýýHg accumulating in ocean fish is derived from in situ production within the upper waters (<1000 m). An analysis of the available data suggests that concentrations in the various ocean basins are changing at different rates due to differences in atmospheric loading and that the deeper waters of the oceans are responding slowly to changes in atmospheric Hg inputs. Most biological exposures occur in the upper ocean and therefore should respond over years to decades to changes in atmospheric mercury inputs achieved by regulatory control strategies. Migratory pelagic fish such as tuna and swordfish are an important component of CHýýýHg exposure for many human populations and therefore any reduction in anthropogenic releases of Hg and associated deposition to the ocean will result in a decline in human exposure and risk.

PubMed ID: 22559948 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: Animals; Environmental Policy*; Humans; Mercury/chemistry*; Mercury/metabolism; Oceans and Seas; Seawater/chemistry*; Water Pollutants, Chemical/chemistry*; Water Pollutants, Chemical/metabolism

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