Shu Yeu Wu
13 December 2013
Imagine that every fish you have been eating and every fish on the market is contaminated with mercury; would you want to take action to improve this situation in order for yourself and everyone else to have healthy fish to eat? Most of the fish today are exposed to mercury, and mercury toxicity threatens the health of everyone who eats fish. Mercury pollution has been a well known ocean pollution for many years, and United States remain to be one of the top nations with the most severe mercury contamination. Government needs to cease all industrial activities that cause mercury pollution by setting up regulations since mercury threatens marine ecological environment.
Even though mercury is a natural occurring element, most of the mercury that enters and pollutes the aquatic ecosystem is from human industrial activities or factories. During the California Gold Rush that started in 1849, the mercury pollution problem has become bigger because “mercury is often used to amalgamate with the metal. The gold is then produced by boiling away the mercury from the amalgam, a process which is hazardous owing to be toxicity of mercury vapor” (Soos). A large amount of mercury polluted the ocean during the Gold Rush that will last thousands of years. Besides using mercury to extract gold from gravel, mercury has also been released to the ocean in many other ways since the Industrial Revolution, such as “coal combustion, medical and hazardous waste incineration, municipal waste combustion, and certain chemical manufacturing operations” (EPA). Industrial activities severely contaminated the aquatic ecosystem with a large amount of mercury in the mid-1800s, and a great portion of mercury still remains as sediments in the ocean today; humans have poisoned the whole marine ecosystem with mercury, but “no one should be permitted to buy a part of our Earth to dump poisons in, just as we would not sell one of our legs to be used as a trash can” (Walker 666), and “we must begin to develop the consciousness that everything has equal rights because existence itself is equal” (Walker 667). Although Environmentalists have tried to stop the spread of mercury contamination, they “are sometimes accused of spending too little time thinking about cities, or of considering them inferior to unspoiled countryside or untouched wildness” (Jacobs 359). People’s prioritized cities’ development rather than conserving the nature and this is one of the main reasons that mercury still remains to be an unsolved problem.
Once mercury enters the oceans, it contaminates the entire marine ecological environment and the food chain. When fish are exposed to mercury, all the consumers of fish would be affected. The author of Having Faith, Sandra Steingraber, points out that “long-lived toxic chemicals do not remain diluted when they are broadcast into the environment. Instead, they magnify –are concentrated –inexorably as...