Mercury making its way into global drinking water thanks to global warming

Once the permafrost thaws, it's the beginning of the end for the aquatic food chain.

According to a recently released report from the journal Geophysical Research Letters, There are about 15 million gallons trapped underneath permafrost in the Northern Hemisphere, mostly under the Alaskan, Canadian, and Russian regions of the Arctic Circle. As global warming increases temperatures across the globe, this permafrost will melt and free huge amounts of mercury into the ocean and waterways of the world. Fifteen million gallons is nearly twice as much as the Exxon-Valdez oil spill. 

While the amount might sound alarming, it's worth a reminder that there are about 326 million cubic miles of water. To put that roughly, if all the world's ocean water was a basketball, 150 million gallons would be about the size of a head of a pin.

The real danger, though, is what that amount of mercury could do to the food chain. Salmon would be immediately affected, and would quickly carry toxic (if not immediately lethal) amounts of mercury. Any increase in mercury intake would carry with it sharply increased risks of certain types of cancers.




Related Articles

To save us, half of Earth needs to be given to animals

We're more dependent on them than we realize.

(Photo Lily on Unsplash)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists says our survival depends on biodiversity.
  • A natural climate strategy we often forget.
  • Seeing our place among the Earth's living creatures.
Keep reading Show less

New infographics show how cigarette smokers are socially penalized

There's a high social cost that comes with lighting up.

Sex & Relationships
  • The home improvement company Porch recently polled 1,009 people on their feelings about smoking.
  • The company recently published the results as infographics.
  • In terms of dating, 80 percent of nonsmokers find the habit a turnoff
Keep reading Show less

The "catch" to being on the keto diet

While short-term results are positive, there is mounting evidence against staying in ketosis for too long.

Brendan Hoffman / Getty
Surprising Science
  • Recent studies showed volunteers lost equal or more weight on high-carb, calorie-restricted diets than low-carb, calorie restricted diets.
  • There might be positive benefits to short-term usage of a ketogenic diet.
  • One dietician warns that the ketogenic diet could put diabetics at risk for diabetic ketoacidosis.
Keep reading Show less