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Snow in Kemerovo is polluted with mercury

Russian researchers have studied the state of a waste deposit of exhausted ore at the small town Ursk in Kemerovo region and discovered that such places even after dozens of years after the cease of their active usage remain notably hazardous for the health of human and animals. In the spoil heap, a relatively large content of mercury has been measured. Every spring, this substance of the first class of danger penetrates from the deposit to the local river. The respective article has been published in the Chemosphere.
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The authors of the study have investigated the content of mercury in spoil heaps near Ursk and in the snows covering the neighborhood. It has been turned out that at some spots the spoil heaps of exhausted ore contain mercury with the concentration of 230−573 parts over a million which is notably larger than the original ore. Moreover, the mercury from the ore actively polluted the snow. At some spots, the amount of mercury in snows increased by 2470−480 mg per square meter per day. However, such spots alternate with places where the content of mercury was growing slower: only by 30 mg per square meter per day.

The main accumulation of mercury has been introduced to heaps dozens of years ago implying that the current level of pollution with this metal should be substantially lower than over the period of active utilization of the local mine. Apparently, at that time, the content was notably higher which led to the extinction of large fish from the local river. Unfortunately, the studies of the impact of mercury on local citizens were not carried out which hinders the detailed understanding the degree of damage towards the citizens' health.

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