A recent report by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), a working group of the Arctic Council, claims that rising levels of mercury in the Arctic region increasingly threaten human and animal populations. Updating a 2002 assessment, “Arctic Pollution 2011” is available on AMAP’s Website. The report notes that mercury emissions have been steady since the 1990s, except in East Asia, where emissions have risen steadily. It cites studies that indicate a 10-fold increase in mercury in upper trophic-level marine animals (beluga, ringed seal, polar bear, and birds of prey) over the past 150 years.
The report recommends further (i) investigation into the fate of mercury entering marine systems, (ii) understanding of how methyl mercury enters the Arctic food chain, (iii) understanding of how climate change affects mercury, (iv) wildlife studies measuring mercury levels in different tissues and organs to assess mercury-induced health effects, and (v) studies on how mercury affects human health.