Effect of Mercury on different types of organisms

Mercury is found by nature on the crust of the earth. It is being constantly released into the environment through natural events. Such events are volcanic activity three common forms of mercury are:

  • Elemental mercury
  • Organic mercury
  • Inorganic mercury

Various activities are performed by humans that result in a gradual increase in the amount of mercury in the environment such activities are the burning of coal gold mining (it is a process that we bring into practice for the recovery of pure gold ) chemically mercury is found In the form of a chemical in that form it is almost harmless.

But when it contaminates water it becomes a very severe threat all the aquatic animals including shrimps sharks rays skates dolphins and even all other commonly found fishes are affected by it and it also affects those populations of animals or even humans that consume it if we consider humans than newborn babies and the babies even before birth can be affected as a consequence of this newborn baby with neurological and chromosomal defects or problems are born when fishes become affected by mercury. 

It becomes part of their body and when humans and other animals consume it so it becomes an important part of the  food chain and its effects become even more prevailing and dangerous  when it is resolved within water it becomes a life-threatening factor for the aquatic organisms the most dangerous kind of mercury is the methyl mercury  because it can accumulate in the body of the animal that consumes it even humans have accumulated mercury in their body source of the organic mercury is the consumption of food (aquatic animals are known as seafood ) Methyl mercury  is the major constituent  of the body of those persons who consume seafood lavishly

Health Effects:

 Poisoning of mercury is a very slow speed process that requires many days (several months ) or even years many persons who are affected by mercury don’t get an idea that they are suffering from the mercury poisoning mercury that we get by seafood or even by the consumption of many other products ( eatable ) is absorbed in the intestinal walls.

Mercury affects various organs of the body due to its negative impacts on the biological systems but it mainly affects the organs that are responsible for the filtration of the body fluids (blood). The kidney is the organ that is responsible for the   filtration   so mercury mainly affects the kidney

How   streams and lakes are accumulated by mercury:

A single and  major source of the mercury in the  atmosphere   our  environment gets accumulated by the environmental  depositions   as an example we  can say  rain snow  and  dry   particles some  industries also direct  discharge  their wastes into the stream naturally  occurring  mercury recycles between the atmosphere  water and sediments  burring the coal incineration  of the wastages  and power plants  increase  the cycling of the mercury in the environment

So the level of mercury has been increased in the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems after travelling long distances mercury can be deposited in the aquatic ecosystem mercury can undergo methylation and form methyl mercury which is the more toxic form of mercury being the part of the food chain mercury has adverse effects it can even affect human beings

Fishes   are no more completely safe food for consumption for us but it is the basic part of our proper diet because it contains essential nutrients

The role that is played by mercury:

As we know very  well   potent neurological poison in fish is mercury is a very serious threat  to our nation’s water through various(one or more) routes  mercury can find its way in the aquatic ecosystem  by  the effects of various factors atmospheric deposition is the basic  reason for the accumulation  of the aquatic ecosystem   by the US agency that is established  for the environmental protection   inorganic mercury is normally gathered from the environment(atmosphere) after methylation that is converted into the organic form  that is more threatening and makes the situation more severe so  the methylation gained more importance in the recycling of the mercury all the fishes contain methylated mercury in their body form

How we can check the level of the safety of the fish:

Different fishes have a varying degree of mercury concentration in their body so have different   effects  on  the  person or the other animal consuming it  so all kinds of fishes are not safe to use them as a part of our diet  the toxicity level of the fish must be checked by some method 

Before its consumption for   safety after checking about the toxicity of the fishes with a higher level of mercury should be avoided but there is no option to say no to fish because fishes are not only tasty seafood but also have precious nutritive value we will suffer from a nutritional deficiency   if we started avoiding fishes or ignore it our dinners or lunches our immune system will be less active due to the nutritional deficiency

 Where the highest mercury concentration in fishes can be detected: 

Mercury level in any fish can be detected virtually mercury is a contaminant that can be easily detected by following some simple procedures practically we should have an idea about the level of the mercury in the fishes for our good health and wealth in fishes mercury is found in 2 basic forms.

Poisoning by mercury:

Poisoning that is caused by mercury is called mercury poisoning mercury is found in various forms in our environment  the most common form of mercury  that causes mercury poisoning  is the   organic form of mercury( methylated mercury)

That is associated with seafood being a part of their body poisoning of the mercury depends upon the  level   or the  concentration of the mercury  in our daily useable products mercury is present  in smaller quantities ( in such a minimum value that they are nearly harmless and don’t show any severe symptoms or diseases)

Industrialization has played its role in the increased level of mercury in our environment due to the presence of mercury it can find its way into the aquatic ecosystem  even to the terrestrial environment mercury commonly affects   children and newborn babies(of the age of 9 to 15 )

How someone can diagnose   the poisoning   caused by mercury:

There are various medically tested  procedures ( commonly known as a test)  for the detection of the poisoning  caused by mercury normally  a physician  observes the apparent  condition  of the patient ( physical examination) or a physician can diagnose it  by the blood or urine test the person who is affected  by the mercury  poisoning  shows certain symptoms  someone can also get an idea of the mercury poisoning by observing  keenly the condition of the patients  lifestyle

Why mercury should be a concern:

As we know that mercury is present everywhere in our environment up to a certain level a level that does not create any severe problems or severe symptoms there are two common ways for the effect of the mercury   (routes)  by inhalation or by touch.

We can also be affected by  it due to its intake of seafood  after  each exposure it is accumulated in our environment but the more threatening thing is that removal of it is very difficult it has become a severe threat because of its participation in the food chain  biological membranes are permeable for the   mercury ( methyl mercury )  tiny organisms can  absorb  mercury   from the  environment   when other aquatic animals consume it ( tiny organisms)  they become affected  so the predatory fishes have a higher level  of mercury in their bodies these fishes can impart  detrimental  effects  on humans

 How to prevent mercury pollution:

Mercury is quite dangerous because it affects our actions like   hear walk think and talk mercury can be evaporated and travel long distances and contribute to the pollution

 Source of mercury:

Volcanoes or forest fires are the natural sources of mercury but 70%  of the mercury is accumulated by human activities other are caused by natural resources mercury is also found as crude oil in less quantity in metal ores crude oil and taconite etc.

How to prevent mercury pollution:

 Everyone can play its role to eliminate mercury from our environment try to avoid the products containing mercury in them and buy the products that are mercury-free there is a plus point of mercury that it is not only harmful but it is also compulsory for the for various products.

For example, we can say fluorescent and high-intensity discharge lightings these are highly beneficial because they are environment friendly they are also economically very beneficial because they require less power so we can slow down the process of burning of the coal in the power plants our all release of mercury in our environment can be reduced by the control and check of the products containing mercury.

Reviewed by:
Dr. Muhammad Adnan Asghar (Ph.D.)

Chinese Academy of Sciences Fuzhou, Fujian