Mercury pollution in Tokuyama Bay
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The sediments and aquatic life of Tokuyama Bay, Japan, have been polluted by mercury effluent from chloro-alkali plants. In total, about 380 tons mercury were released from these plants and 6.64 tons of mercury were discharged into the bay in waste waters between 1952 and 1975, when mercury cells were employed. A number of surveys to study mercury pollution and the effectiveness of control measures in this area were conducted in the early 1970's by our laboroatory and other agencies. Analysis of human hair from Tokuyama Bay residents contained less mercury than those in Minamata and Agano districts, Japan, where serious mercury poisoning had occurred, but were contaminated with more mercury than those in other unpolluted areas. No occurrence of Minamata disease has been reported in the Tokuyama district.
Reclamation of mercury contaminated sediments began in 1975; dredging of the bay continued until 1977. Since then, the levels of mercury contamination in sediments and aquatic life have gradually decreased. Today there are no problems with respect to mercury pollution.
In this paper, we describe and discuss mercury pollution in Tokuyama Bay with regard to the following aspects of research and pollution control: the history of mercury pollution; mercury discharge and its accumulation in sediments; behaviour of mercury in sediments; mercury contamination of fish; mercury and the health of local residents; and remedial actions.
Key wordsTokuyama Bay Japan mercury fish sediments water human hair dredging pollution
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