The spread of mercury in spiders, and how DDT lives on…
1st June, 2008
The pathways of contamination highlighted in Rachel Carson’s 'Silent Spring' are still being found, research shows
Man-made pollutants are continuing to find new routes into food chains and habitats, new research has shown.
A paper published in the journal Science by researchers from the Institute for Integrated Bird Behavior at the College of William and Mary, in Virginia, has demonstrated for the first time how mercury river pollution can find its way into land-based ecosystems – through spiders.
The researchers were surprised that even though the birds they were monitoring were known not to eat fish from a polluted river, they still displayed high levels of mercury in their bodies. By studying the birds’ diet, the scientists discovered that spiders they had eaten had acted as ‘bioaccumulators’ – concentrating levels of mercury contamination found in the soils and organisms on the river banks and then delivering the dose up the food chain.
Lead author Dan Cristol said when examining mercury pollution in watercourses it was important to look beyond fish and other aquatic organisms that were directly exposed to mercury.
‘It’s not just about the fish, the people who eat the fish and the animals that eat the fish,’ he said....
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