text-only page produced automatically by LIFT Text Transcoder Skip all navigation and go to page contentSkip top navigation and go to directorate navigationSkip top navigation and go to page navigation
National Science Foundation
News
design element
News
News From the Field
For the News Media
Special Reports
Research Overviews
NSF-Wide Investments
Speeches & Lectures
NSF Current Newsletter
Multimedia Gallery
Search Multimedia
Image
Video
Audio
More
Multimedia in the News
NSF Executive Staff
News Archive
 

Email this pagePrint this page
"Mercurial Thoughts" -- The Discovery Files


The Discovery Files
Audio Play Audio
The Discovery Files podcast is available through iTunes or you can add the RSS feed to your podcast receiver.

Environmental researchers at Harvard University have published evidence that significant reductions in mercury emissions will be necessary just to stabilize current levels of the toxic element in the environment.

Credit: NSF/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

A drop of mercury

I'm Bob Karson with the discovery files--new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.

(Sound effect: restaurant bg) Been a lot of talk lately about mercury levels in the food chain--you might think cutting down mercury emissions would solve the problem of this neurological and cardiovascular toxin. But a Harvard study now shows that in addition to new sources, we need to deal with mercury pollution from our ancestors.

(Sound effect: ancient music) Humans have been releasing mercury into the environment ever since the ancient Greeks and Chinese used it as a pigment. (Sound effect: early machinery) Then there's the whole industrial revolution, and the gold rush (Sound effect: mule) yep, our kind is responsible for most of the Hg found in the soil, air and water. The researchers, point out that nearly all of the mercury pollution from the last millennium is still around--a game-changer in terms of reducing the overall amount.

The study model showed that 60 percent of the mercury currently being deposited in the atmosphere is 'legacy' mercury released in the distant past but still cycling its way through the environment. Of the rest, 27 percent comes from our present-day emissions. Only 13 percent is natural in origin.

The Harvard team says that, with all this legacy mercury around, if we want to reduce the level of mercury in the environment, it's not enough just to stabilize the amount we're emitting now. We need to drastically reduce it.

Legacy mercury and they say diamonds are forever.

"The discovery files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research--brought to you, by you! Learn more at nsf.gov or on our podcast.

 
General Restrictions:
Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only.

Images credited to the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, are in the public domain. The images were created by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties or prepared by contractors as "works for hire" for NSF. You may freely use NSF-credited images and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation. Additional information about general usage can be found in Conditions.

MP3 icon
NSF podcasts are in mp3 format for easy download to desktop and laptops, as well as mobile devices capable of playing them.

 



Email this pagePrint this page
Back to Top of page