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Mercury

Information and Technology Report 1999-0001

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Abstract

Mercury has been used by humans for over 2,000 years and was associated with premature deaths of cinnabar (mercuric sulfide) miners as early as 700 B.C. More recent human poisonings have been related to agricultural and industrial uses of mercury. One of the best documented of these cases occurred in the 1950s in Minamata Bay, Japan, when mercury was discharged into the environment and accumulated in fish and shellfish used as human food. In addition to human poisonings, mercury poisoning or toxicosis has been identified in many other species.

Mercury is sometimes used to recover gold from stream sediments, and it may pose hazards to wildlife if it is released to the environment during ore recovery. Fungicidal treatment of seeds with mercury was common in the 1950s and 1960s, but this agricultural practice has been largely halted in the Northern Hemisphere.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
Federal Government Series
Title:
Mercury
Series title:
Information and Technology Report
Series number:
1999-0001
Year Published:
1999
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
National Wildlife Health Center
Description:
4 p.
Larger Work Type:
Report
Larger Work Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title:
Field manual of wildlife diseases: General field procedures and diseases of birds
First page:
337
Last page:
340