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“The ocean is a dig missing part” of the mercury cycle, says Pirrone, who also headed the United Nations Environment Programme’s scientific assessment last year for future mercury policy making. Robie Macdonald, an Arctic mercury specialist at Canada’s department of oceans and fisheries, says that although mercury in the atmosphere has increased by about 400%in the past 100-150 years, concentrations seem to have risen by only about 30% in the oceans. “We’ve been so busy looking at the atmosphere, not really looking at the oceans,” he says. “Both papers are really important in terms of changing community attention to what mercury does and its risks.” Any control measures on methlmercury, however, must take into account how much comes, unavoidably, from natural sources and how much is from anthropogenic sources such as the combustion of fossil fuels, points out Pirrone. And controversy continues on that score. A lack of data on changes in methylmercury levels in fish, and on natural or anthropogenic origins of the compound, led to a California court decision in March 2009 that allowed tuna-canning companies to avoid labeling methylmercury levels in their fish products. The US Food and Drug Administration is currently evaluating its guidelines on the risks of consuming methylmercury in fish. よろしくお願いします^^;

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水銀循環において「海は丹念な調査が大きく欠けている部分です。」と、将来の水銀ポリシー作成の為、昨年の国連環境計画科学的アセスメントの座長も務めたピローネは言います。 カナダ水産海洋省の北極における水銀のスペシャリスト、ロビー・マクドナルドによると、大気中の水銀量は過去100年~150年で約400%増加したものの、海の濃度はわずか30%の上昇と思えるとのことです。 「我々は大気圏にばかり注目していて、あまり海に目を向けていなかったのです。」と彼はいいます。 「どちらの論文も、水銀が何をどうするのかやそのリスクに対する社会の関心を変化させるという観点からとても重要なのです。」 しかしながらメチル水銀のいかなる適切な措置も、どのぐらいの量が自然環境から不可避で放出され、どのぐらいが例えば化石燃料の燃焼といった人為的汚染源からなのかを考慮しなければなりません、とピローネは指摘します。 そして、その点に関しては議論が続いています。 魚に含まれるメチル水銀濃度の変化に関するデータ、および、化合物が自然起源か人為起源かに関するデータの不足は、マグロの缶詰会社が自社製品におけるメチル水銀濃度を非表示にすることを許可するという2009年3月のカリフォルニア州裁判所の決定につながりました。 現在、アメリカ食品医薬局は魚に含まれるメチル水銀の摂取によるリスクについてのガイドライン評価を行っているところです。

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    Sunderland’s team also found a relationship between levels of methylated mercury and organic carbon. Particles of organic carbon from phytoplankton or other sources may provide surfaces on which microbes could methylate mercury in the ocean, the researchers suggest. That methylated mercury could then be released back into the water. “We don’t have a causal mechanism yet, but it does seem to be linked to the biological pump in the ocean,” says Sunderland. Previous findings in the southern and equatorial Pacific, she adds, observed similar high methylmercury concentrations where biological activity was highest. That connection has implications for climate change and the mercury cycle: warmer, more productive oceans, with more phytoplankton and more fish, might increase the amount of methylated mercury that ends up on human plates. The researchers also hypothesize that waters in the western Pacific could be picking up mercury deposited from increasing atmospheric emissions in Asia, and then moving to the northeast Pacific. The ocean may only how be responding to higher mercury loads from past atmospheric deposition, Sunderland says. Daniel Cossa of the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER) in LA Seyne-sur-Mer and his colleagues have gathered another set of mercury data, this time from the Mediterranean, to be published in the May issue of Limnology and Oceanography. Both papers indicate that not all methylated mercury comes direct from coastal or river sources, and confirm that methylation occurs at moderate depth in oceans, says Cossa’s co-author Nicola Pirrone, director of Italy’s National Research Council Institute for Atmospheric Pollution in Rende. よろしくお願いしますorz

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