From the atmosphere to the food web

Most mercury contamination of the environment is caused by the deposition of inorganic mercury from the atmosphere into waterbodies and their watersheds. Mercury in the atmosphere originates from anthropogenic and natural sources. Because mercury has a global atmospheric cycle, all waterbodies, including those in remote locations, are contaminated with mercury.

After atmospheric mercury is deposited into watersheds and aquatic ecosystems, aquatic bacteria convert inorganic mercury to toxic methylmercury, a form of mercury that can move into the aquatic food chain.

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Click here to find out more information about how to pine tree forests can enhance mercury deposition from the atmosphere.