Coastal fog may be carrying toxic levels of methylmercury, which is then dumped on the land and makes its way up the food chain and contaminates mountain lions living in the region, according to a study by UC Santa Cruz researchers.
In a study published last week, researchers found that methylmercury levels were three times higher in mountain lions living along the coast than among those in inland areas. The increased toxin levels could threaten the big cats’ survival and reproduction as they struggle to navigate their increasingly populated habitats.
Mercury is a naturally occurring pollutant that is released into the environment through mining and coal-fired power plants. It’s so widespread that almost everyone has small amounts of the neurotoxin in their system, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Humans are typically exposed to the chemical when they eat fish and shellfish.
However, at high levels, the toxin can cause neurological damage and decrease fertility.
Read the full story on LATimes.com.