John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Environmental mercury in China: A review

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Courtesy of John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

As a global pollutant, mercury can be transported over long distances and bioaccumulate. China is currently the greatest contributor to atmospheric Hg emissions and has the greatest intentional use of Hg. Mercuryin the Chinese environment is generally elevated, particularly in air and water bodies. Remote areas in China also show elevated Hg levels in air and water bodies compared with other rural regions in the world. Large river estuaries are often heavily affected by upstream industrial sources. Mercury is also elevated in sediments, a direct result of contamination in river systems. Regardless of the few heavily polluted sites, the urban environment in Chinese cities is comparable to that of other megacities in terms of Hg pollution, considering the size and rapid development of Chinese cities. Studies on Hg in fish showed generally low levels of contamination resulting from low bioaccumulation of Hg in the mostly short food chains. Mercuryin rice has recently received increased research interests; elevated concentrations have been reported from rice grown in contaminated areas and may pose a threat to people dependent on such locally grown food. For the general population, Hg exposure from rice is, however, small. In addition, Hg hair concentration in the Chinese population showed generally low levels of exposure to Hg, except for people with special occupational exposure. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. © 2012 SETAC

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