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    Reptiles are Ideal Indicators of Mercury Contamination

    Posted by Betsey Seibel on Aug 30, 2017 9:39:06 AM

    turtle.jpgDespite its remote location, the Amazonian basin is not immune to mercury contamination. A new study published in the Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry found the presence of mercury in two species of turtles and two species of caiman. The concentration of the mercury was below World Health Organization consumption guidelines, but the mercury levels in the liver were higher than recommended for children and pregnant women.

    Sam Eggins, lead author of the Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry study, said in a news release, "Interestingly, relatively high concentrations of mercury in reptiles, fish, and humans in some areas of the Amazon seem to be of natural origin, but there remains many unanswered questions as to the sources and fate of mercury in the region," said. "Our study shows the potential for using Amazonian reptiles to monitor environmental mercury concentrations and should contribute to unraveling the bigger picture of mercury cycling in the Amazon."

    The study suggests that “Mercury is considered to be the greatest threat to crocodilians, and its toxicity to reptiles is of particular concern as reptile species are experiencing population declines.” Reptiles are ideals creatures to study when it comes to mercury levels in aquatic environments given that they live long lives in diverse habitats and feed across diverse trophic levels. The threat of mercury also impacts natives to the region given that turtles, crocodiles and other species of reptiles are the main source of protein.

    Mercury, when mixed with organisms in the water, becomes methylmercury, a neurotoxin that has lethal impacts on humans and animals. Researchers measured the mercury (Hg) concentrations of muscle, liver, blood, and epidermal keratin in the turtles and caiman species. The researchers “suspect that reptiles may have evolved a way to eliminate mercury faster than they accumulate it.”

    Mercury analyzers are an important element used in laboratories today.  There are a variety of applications where Mercury instruments are best suited.  For more information on these analyzers and how they can help with your mercury analysis needs, please contact us or visit our website 

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    Tags: mercury