Mercury pollution has severe effects on wetlands, affecting biodiversity, ecosystem functions and human well-being: tackling this issue requires collaborative efforts at all levels that address the pollution sources throughout its life stages and keep all beings that rely on wetlands, including humans, safe.
Mercury pollution in wetlands severely impacts human health and well-being. By contaminating the water bodies and entering the food chain, mercury poses a threat to both the biodiversity of the ecosystem, and the health and livelihoods of many communities.
The disruption of microbial communities, which play a key role in nutrient cycling processes, alters the ecological balance of these ecosystems. Additionally, methylmercury, the most poisonous among the mercury compounds, can be produced by bacteria in wetland soils.
Methylmercury bioaccumulates in the aquatic food chains, leading to mercury exposure in humans when fish or other aquatic organisms are consumed, which in turn causes neurological and developmental issues, particularly in pregnant women and children.
Exposure to mercury through the food chain also negatively impacts bird species in wetlands, which are crucial habitats for them. These feeding grounds can impair their reproductive success and, in the case of migratory species, make them extend mercury exposure across regions.