What will happen if our bodies are continually exposed to mercury? To answer that question, scientists in Alaska studied Siberian Husky sled dogs, who, like the region’s indigenous people, eat a famously healthy diet of antioxidant-and omega-3 rich-foods such as moose, black bear, salmon and pike.
By comparing samples of the sled dogs’ blood and hair to samples from kennel huskies that ate processed food, the researchers observed that the mercury levels in the sled dogs’ systems of were high—and high enough to interfere with antioxidant status. After two months, the mercury contamination messed with antioxidant status enough to pose a health risk to the animals—and probably the people who are exposed to the same environmental hazards.
Most of the mercury in the dogs’ environment comes from coal-generated power plants located far away from the Yukon, and it eventually accumulates in the tissue of the fish and animals that the dogs eat. “While the mercury levels of the salmon are well below EPA standards,” say the authors, “The fact that the mercury had such a negative impact on antioxidant status indicates that monitoring should continue and that mercury generation should be monitored.”
Something to keep in mind the next time you order some wild Alaskan salmon.
Source: IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters