Mercury Poisoning and 1990 S When Mercury Mining Essentially Stopped

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Intro: Mercury can be used in many different products such as barometers, florescent lamps, and electrical switches and can be in the fish that we eat, whether the fish was caught in a local lake or bought from the grocery store. Mercury is a naturally occurring element in the earth’s crust that can be moved around from volcanoes, coal burning plants, mining, and other natural or human actions. “Mercury is well-documented as a toxic chemical that is atmospherically transported on a local, regional, and global scale by cycling among air, land, and water” (U.S. EPA, 2009). As early as the 1950’s we found that exposure to mercury can be extremely toxic, even deadly to animals and people. Throughout this report I will describe the basic…show more content…
From the vapor the mercury can be distilled and collected. During the 1850’s the California gold rush started which brought with it many different methods to find the precious metal. One of these methods was to use mercury to recover the gold deposits which were at different depths. “Mercury was used to enhance gold recovery in all the various types of mining operations; historical records indicate that more mercury was used and lost at hydraulic mines than at other types of mines”(Alpers, 2005). This made mercury a necessity in mining gold and was used widely until the 1960’s. “Most of the mercury used in gold recovery in California was obtained from mercury deposits in the Coast Range on the west side of California's Central Valley. Total mercury production in California between 1850 and 1981 was more than 220,000,000 lb”(Alpers, 2005). By the late 1950’s the effects of mercury were brought to light by scientists studying birds in Sweden. Besides realizing the effects of mercury on birds and other animals, the possibility of mercury in humans was eye opening. “The most infamous case of severe mercury poisoning occurred at Minamata Bay, Japan, in 1952. The Chisson Chemical Company dumped mercury in Minamata harbor, and the residents of local fishing villages ate mercury-contaminated fish from the harbor. Hundreds of people were affected and 68 people died”(COTW, 2010). This event created some concern about mercury but nothing seemed to create

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