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"Some 55% of mercury emissions are au naturel—oceans, volcanoes, and forest fires—and another 42% are man-made outside of America. U.S. power plants produce just 1% of global mercury emissions. Even if the world got rid of every power plant, fish would still ingest naturally occurring mercury."

The Wall Street Journal, April 8, 2004

Mercury is in the news a lot lately. And with all the various claims and information out there, you may not know what to believe.

This Web site will provide you with the answers—the straight facts and scientific research ​you need to know to cut through the hype—on issues such as mercury and your health, mercury and fish, mercury and power plants, mercury solutions, and much more.

Armed with the facts, you can make your own decisions about mercury and its impact on your community, your life, and your health based on reason rather than emotion.

 

How is mercury released into the environment?

How can I be exposed to mercury?

How is mercury released into the environment?

Mercury is released into the environment by natural sources such as volcanoes, oceans, and soils, as well as manmade processes such as gold and ore mining, medical waste incineration, municipal and hazardous waste combustion, cement manufacturing, fossil fuel combustion, and pulp and paper milling.

Trace amounts of mercury are present in fossil fuels, such as coal and oil. When electric utilities burn these fuels to generate electricity, mercury is released. According to EPA, U.S. electric utilities released 48 tons of mercury in 1999, the latest year for which data are available. This is about 40 percent of domestic manmade mercury emissions, less than 10 percent of total North American emissions, and about one percent of total global mercury emissions.

How can I be exposed to mercury?

Mercury occurs naturally in the environment, and we all are exposed to very low levels of it. Typically, our bodies naturally eliminate this trace amount of natural mercury.

Most human intake of mercury occurs from eating fish or seafood containing a form of mercury called methylmercury. When mercury gets into waterbodies, it can be converted into methylmercury and enter the aquatic food chain, where it bioaccumulates in fish tissue. The magnitude of human exposure to methylmercury depends on the level of mercury in the fish consumed and the amount of fish consumed.

Humans also are exposed to mercury when elemental mercury contained in metal mixtures, such as dental fillings, is released into the environment.

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