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Big increase in ocean mercury found; study predicts more human threat from fish

Mercury levels in the Pacific Ocean will rise by 50 percent within the next few decades as emissions from coal-fired power plants and other sources increase, scientists reported Friday. The researchers, led by scientists from Harvard University and the U.S. Geological Survey, found that the ocean’s mercury levels have already risen about 30% over the last 20 years. Combined, the findings mean the Pacific Ocean will be twice as contaminated with mercury in 2050 as it was in 1995 if the emission rates continue. As a result, people around the globe could be increasingly exposed to mercury from eating fish and other seafood. Methylmercury, a neurotoxin, can alter brain development of fetuses and has been linked with learning problems and reduced IQs in some children.

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