Mercury Levels Dropping in North Atlantic Tuna


Mercury levels in one tuna species have decreased along with industrial emissions of the dangerous chemical element, a new study finds.

The results suggest that reductions in mercury emissions could quickly result in lower mercury levels in some species of ocean fish, according to researcher Nicholas Fisher and colleagues. Fisher is a professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y.

Mercury, a neurotoxin, can harm the nervous system of humans. It accumulates in tuna and other types of fish, which has led to warnings against eating too much tuna, the researchers said in background notes.

Although increased coal burning in Asia has raised mercury emissions globally, levels have fallen in North America 2.8 percent a year between 1990 and 2007, the researchers said.

Over a similar period, mercury in north Atlantic waters dropped 4.3 percent annually. And mercury in the air above the North Atlantic Ocean declined 20 percent from 2001 to 2009, the researchers said.

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