More forms of mercury can be convertedÂ to deadly methylmercury than previously thought, according to a studyÂ published Sunday in Nature Geoscience. The discovery provides scientistsÂ with another piece of the mercury puzzle, bringing them one step closer toÂ understanding the challenges associated with mercury cleanup.
Earlier this year, a multidisciplinary team of researchers at Oak RidgeÂ National Laboratory discovered two key genes that are essential forÂ microbes to convert oxidized mercury to methylmercury, a neurotoxin thatÂ can penetrate skin and at high doses affect brain and muscle tissue,Â causing paralysis and brain damage.
The discovery of how methylmercury is formed answered a question that hadÂ stumped scientists for decades, and the findings published this week buildÂ on that breakthrough. [Read more…]