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Mercury in Bryophytes (Moss)


RECENT reports in the literature, concerning the ability of certain mosses and lichens to concentrate heavy metals1–3, have led to an investigation of the potential application of mosses as indicators of the transport of mercury through the atmosphere. A number of moss samples were collected to provide information regarding the level of mercury in moss around several types of populated areas. The results reported in this communication are from moss collected within an 80 mile radius of Boston, Massachusetts, along the Maine coast, near the tops of Mount Katahdin in Maine and Mount Washington in New Hampshire, and from Walden, New York, a small town located about 60 miles north of New York City. The data are admittedly limited, but provide sufficient insight into the usefulness of moss as an indicator to warrant the pursuit of a more detailed investigation.

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  1. 1

    Jaakkola, T., Miettinen, J., and Takahoshi, H., Proceedings of World Health Organization Meeting, Geneva, 1971 (in the press).

  2. 2

    Ruhling, A., and Tyler, G., Bot. Notiser, 122, 218 (1969).

  3. 3

    Rühling, A., and Tyler, G., Oikos, 21, 92 (1970).

  4. 4

    Williston, S. H., J. Geophys. Res., 73, 22 (1968).

  5. 5

    Boengen, J. G., Shacklette, H. T., and Turner, R. L., US Geological Survey Circular, 644 (1971).

  6. 6

    Conard, H. S., The Mosses and Liverworts (Brown, Dubuque, 1956).

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