Heavy Metals

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cological disorders. The main pathway for mercury to humans is through the food chain and not by inhalation.

The main sources of mercury emissions in the UK are from the manufacture of chlorine in mercury cells, non-ferrous metal production, coal combustion and crematoria. UK emissions of mercury are uncertain and it is estimated that the range is from 13 to 36 tonnes per year (DERA). Emissions are estimated to have declined by around ѕs between 1970-1998 (NAEI), mainly due to improved controls on mercury cells and their replacement, and the fall in coal use.

Whilst there has been a decline in the level of European emissions of mercury, emissions from outside of Europe have started to increase increasing the level of ambient concentrations in the continent.

Effects of Nickel on the environment

Small amounts of Nickel are needed by the human body to produce red blood cells, however, in excessive amounts, can become mildly toxic. Short-term overexposure to nickel is not known to cause any health problems, but long-term exposure can cause decreased body weight, heart and liver damage, and skin irritation. The EPA does not currently regulate nickel levels in drinking water. Nickel can accumulate in aquatic life, but its presence is not magnified along food chains.

Effects of Selenium on the environment

Selenium is needed by humans and other animals in small amounts, but in larger amounts can cause damage to the nervous system, fatigue, and irritability. Selenium accumulates in living tissue, causing high selenium content in fish and other organisms, and causing greater health problems in human over a lifetime of overexposure. These health problems include hair and fingernail loss, damage to kidney and liver tissue, damage to circulatory tissue, and more severe damage to the nervous system.

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