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Scientists discover toxic form of mercury in Antarctic sea ice

India TV News Desk melbourne 02 Aug 2016, 11:12:37 AM IST
India TV News Desk

Australian scientists have found a toxic form of mercury in Antarctic's atmosphere and sea ice.

According to a research, led by the University of Melbourne, the significant amounts of methylmercury, an especially dangerous strain of mercury, in the Southern Ocean, Xinhua news agency reported.

Caitlin Gionfriddo, a PhD student at the University of Melbourne who worked on the project, said the study revealed that methylmercury released by Antarctic ice into the ocean could be contaminating the food chain.

"There are high levels of methylmercury in our ecosystems, especially in the marine environment, but we don't know how it's being produced," Gionfriddo said on Tuesday.

"We're seeing it accumulate in the food web and most of it likely comes from atmospheric deposition of mercury onto sea water. "

The research, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, said the atmospheric dumping of the mercury occurs all year but is most evident during the Antarctic spring when the most sea ice melts and releases the toxicant.

Researchers associated with the project expressed concerns that as global warming continues humans will be subject to greater exposure to mercury by consuming fish from the region.

(With Agency input)