Climate change and bushfire may exacerbate recent mercury pollution and increase exposure to the poisonous neurotoxin, according to our study published in the Journal of Paleolimnology.
Mercury stored in plants is released during bushfires, suggesting Australia is particularly at risk.
Our study in the Venezuelan Andes examined how mercury deposits responded when the world warmed by about 3℃ between 14,500 and 11,500 years ago. (Scientists call this period the transition from the Last Glacial Maximum to the Holocene).
We found the amount of mercury deposited in the environment at this time increased four-fold.