Study: Oceans Contain More Man-Made Mercury

WASHINGTON — A new study finds that in much of the world’s oceans, levels of the metal mercury are double to triple what they were before the industrial revolution.

Researchers found there’s more mercury from human sources, mostly burning fossil fuels and mining for gold, than scientists had thought.

The study assessed inorganic mercury, which in the ocean gets converted into the toxic methylmercury found in seafood. When pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children eat too much methylmercury-tainted seafood, there’s an increased risk of nervous system problems in the developing child.

Scientist Carl Lamborg of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts said the new results don’t provide any immediate conclusions about eating fish.

His study appears in the journal Nature.