Mercury, also known as quick silver this is due to its appearance of being a liquid at room temperature. Mercury is a compound that can be found naturally in the environment. Mercury finds its way into the environment both though natural processes, anthropogenic processes and deposition. (1) Natural process includes the weathering of rocks, volcanic event, where as anthropogenic processes include such things as combustion of coal, mining, and industrial facilities. (1) and (2) The anthropogenic processes are of major concern of human health.
Since mercury has a tendency of existing in both dissolved and particulate forms in the environment contamination risk are of great concern. One of the major sources of mercury contamination to the environment is through the mining and refining process. (1) In many mining and refining processes mercury is added to extract and constitute the metal or compound of interest. Due to the fact that mercury is not the final end product of interest it is usually either burned off and or released as a waste product of the mining and refining process. (1)
The waste produced through these processes if released to the environment can have negative effects on the ecosystem. Mercury tends to end up in soil and surface waters bacteria present in the environment reduces the mercury to methyl mercury. (2) In this form mercury becomes of great concern due to biomagnifications and bioaccumulation factors present in the food chain. (3) Since aquatic organisms have a tendency to concentrate methyl mercury in the body. Species higher in the food chain have considerably higher concentrations of mercury such as tuna and swordfish. This posses a great concern to human health since both of these organisms are associated with the human diet. (2)
Metal pollutants are of major concern to human health this is especially true of mercury. Though, in elemental form mercury is far less dangerous than methyl mercury. Methyl mercury...