Sources of Mercury and Health Effect

530 Words Feb 21st, 2018 2 Pages
Mercury is a metal that when at room temperature is a silvery liquid metal and is often called one of the "heavy metals." Mercury can evaporate like water, and become airborne. It is an element that does not break down into a less toxic substance. Once mercury escapes into the environment it will continue to circulate in and out of the atmosphere until it ends up at the bottoms of lakes and oceans. It cannot be created or destroyed (UWM, 2004). The most common or leading source of mercury in the environment is atmospheric deposition. Once mercury has reached the atmosphere it can circulate for years which make up for the extensive distribution in the environment. The natural sources that contribute to atmospheric mercury are volcanoes, geologic deposits of mercury, weathering of rocks and volatilization from the ocean. Rocks, sediments, water and soil also naturally contain small amounts of mercury; scientists have even found some local mineral occurrences and thermal springs that are natural high in mercury (USGS, 2009). Secondary sources of mercury result from burning fossil fuels and smelting metals. Mercury is also a by-product of gold and zinc mining. Mercury is also found in many rocks one of them being coal, when coal is burned in power plants the mercury is…