Every Californian has observed the Golden Gate Bridge disappear in a ‘cloud’ of fog, and though this is normally just a nuisance for passing ships, or a hindrance of the view from the Alamo Square, researchers have found alarming levels of mercury in the fog which could harm the ecosystem and human health.
Most of us know about avoiding mercury in fish due to health concerns, but the mercury in question here isn’t the same – it’s called monomethylmercury. In high enough levels, it can cause birth defects, kidney failure, and neurological impairment. Mercury compounds accumulate very easily in animals and humans, too, causing further health issues. This particular type of mercury is also one of the strongest known neurotoxins.
So far the levels of mercury detected in California’s fog are reportedly not high enough to affect humans adversely, but they can harm smaller animals in the food chain.