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Diatom ooze—A large marine mercury sink

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Science  24 Aug 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6404, pp. 797-800
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat2735

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Mercury sinking

Mercury is a highly toxic, globally ubiquitous pollutant that can seriously damage human health. Most mercury pollution enters the atmosphere from burning coal and other fossil fuels and from industrial activity, but where does it all go? Zaferani et al. analyzed biogenic siliceous sediments (diatom ooze) from off the coast of Antarctica and found that they contained surprisingly large amounts of mercury. The results suggest that as much as 25% of mercury emissions over the past 150 years could be trapped in sediments like these, revealing the important role that the marine biological pump may play in the global mercury cycle.

Science, this issue p. 797