Last month, we talked about birds carrying toxins such as PCBs from southern waters to Arctic lakes. Well that’s one vector. But when it comes to mercury, it’s quite good at making its way north on its own via air and ocean currents. There are natural sources of mercury entering the environment all the time, but human-made sources are a major contributor as well.
The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), a working group of the Arctic Council, will be releasing an assessment of mercury issues in the Arctic in May of this year. In the mean time, they have just released a summary of the key issues. It provides a good overview of where the mercury comes from, how it gets into the Arctic environment, the impacts on wildlife and the people who rely on the wildlife for food.
It serves as a strong reminder of how our planet’s natural systems are all connected – and that we, too, are inextricably linked to these systems. How we choose to use or abuse that connection can make the difference between a sruggling planet and a healthy one.
View a PDF of the AMAP mercury in the Arctic handout here.
Anabelle Baya, a PhD student at Trent University and ArcticNet researcher, talks about organic mercury in the atmosphere, what we still don’t really know, and why it matters. She was on board the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Amundsen in the summer of 2009.
Debbie Armstrong, a technician at the Ultra Clean Trace Element Analysis Laboratory at the University of Manitoba talks about mercury in Arctic mammals. She was on board the Amundsen on an ArcticNet research cruise in the summer of 2009.