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Is Mercury from Hawaiian Volcanoes a Natural Source of Pollution?


THE development of more sensitive techniques1 for the analysis of mercury has resulted in reports of previously unsuspected amounts of mercury in the environment. There are now several well documented cases of mercury pollution deriving from industrial sources, but sources of other forms of mercury pollution, as in ocean-going fish2, for example, are not so well defined3. The widespread distribution of mercury in the environment may, however, be in part a consequence of the physical properties of the element, the manufacture of the element by the smelting of cinnabar, and the fact that certain microorganisms can convert mercury to the gas dimethyl mercury.

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ESHLEMAN, A., SIEGEL, S. & SIEGEL, B. Is Mercury from Hawaiian Volcanoes a Natural Source of Pollution?. Nature 233, 471–472 (1971).

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