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back to article Bromine bomb drops toxic mercury fallout

A “bromine explosion” in the Arctic back in 2008 has yielded a disturbing scientific analysis: the replacement of perennial sea-ice with younger seasonal ice could lead to mercury pollution in the Arctic. In a new NASA-led study, American, Canadian, German and UK researchers believe they have identified the mechanism by which …

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Anonymous Coward

Is it just me

Is it just me or is this the first time you haev actualy read bromine being involved in any form of news at all. Even first I've seen it even mentioned since leaving school and the days of the dangerous brown gas that was never heard of again....Until now. Though beyond being a nasty toxic gas seem that it is actualy doing good things, apart from adding mecury to the ocean, from the atmosphere!

One question that I didn't see addressed is, This bromine in the artic, how did it get there? Was there a global bromine event in the past that deposited it, i just don't know.

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Anonymous Coward

Bromine's a liquid

Bromine and mercury are the only two elements that are liquid at room temperature and pressure. Nitrogen dioxide is a nasty brown gas though.

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Boffin

Re: Bromine's a liquid

Depends on your definition of room temperature, I suppose - lab definition of room temp, OK those two are it. But in typical temps in my house in the Summer, there are 3 more that would melt (Francium, Cesium, and Gallium). On a really hot day, Rubidium would melt as well. I'm not aware of any others that would melt at atmospheric temperatures found an the earth's surface but there could be I suppose...

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Re: Bromine's a liquid

Bromine has a vapor pressure of about 0.3 atm at room temperature (lower in the arctic of course). Open a bottle of bromine and you'll see plenty of "nasty (reddish) brown gas".

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Gold badge
Meh

Bromine -> ground level Ozone scrubber & Mercury precitator?

Now if you can control *where* this take (IE over a large very secure collection facility) both of those would be a *good* thing.

As long as it stays *below* the Stratosphere of course.

Intrigued.

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Ru
Silver badge
Pirate

Er, where is all the *mercury* coming from?

Bromine compounds aren't exactly commonplace, but they're not unusual either. Where is all this atmospheric mercury coming from though? And how much of it is there?

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Bronze badge
Meh

Re: Er, where is all the *mercury* coming from?

"Although many uses of mercury have been curtailed, mercury compounds continue to be released into the atmosphere. The largest sources of mercury emissions in the U.S. and worldwide are coal-fired power plants, waste incinerators, metallurgy/mining operations (especially gold mining), and chlor-alkali plants that employ mercury-cell technology. A potentially growing source of mercury is disposable products, such as compact fluorescent bulbs and personal electronics (cell phones, LCD TVs, digital cameras), which contain mercury. The mercury eventually leaks into the atmosphere when broken or crushed in a landfill."

http://www.oar.noaa.gov/spotlite/2008/spot_mercury.html

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Ru
Silver badge

Re: Er, where is all the *mercury* coming from?

Ta.

Oh those wacky coal fired power plants. Shame nuclear has such a bad rep; I wonder if the environmental damage and death toll of nuke plants will ever get to the same level as the coal industry?

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Re: Er, where is all the *mercury* coming from?

Will the death toll of nuke plants will ever get to the same level as the coal industry?I hope not the coal industry Kills more workers every year than almostany other land based industry.

http://www.the9billion.com/2011/03/24/death-rate-from-nuclear-power-vs-coal/

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Thumb Up

And the upside of this is that they won't need to add bromine to your tea to keep population numbers down...

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Mercury in the atmosphere?

I had no idea there was mercury in air. Learned something today.

Goddamned coal.

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Boffin

Roughly 25% of *all* Mercury in the environment

is (apparently) down to the Mercury in tooth fillings following creation.

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Bronze badge

Re: Roughly 25% of *all* Mercury in the environment

And the level of Mercury in the environment is 0.000000000000000000000000000001% or some other absolutely tiny amount that in reality probably won't cause any *extra* deaths. For comparison CO2 is around 390 ppm or 0.039%

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Anonymous Coward

Tads, you surprise me!

5,500 tons per year of mercury in the atmosphere, tending to gravitate to the humid areas and the poles, concentrating to dangerous levels up the food chain.

http://www.epa.gov/mercury/report.htm

Coal produces *lots* of nasty stuff. google for coal combustion products mercury

(considering its density I'm surprised it moves more than 30ft away from its source!)

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Isn't this backwards?

The most effective route for elemental mercury poisoning is through inhalation of vapor.

Shouldn't the story be 'bromine from melting ice removes toxic pollutant from atmosphere'?

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PT

Re: Isn't this backwards?

"Shouldn't the story be 'bromine from melting ice removes toxic pollutant from atmosphere'?"

Probably, but that wouldn't attract such a big research grant as one about the evils of industrial civilization.

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Bronze badge

Re: Isn't this backwards?

"Probably, but that wouldn't attract such a big research grant as one about the evils of industrial civilization."

And also includes the words Global Warming. Well known fact amongst research scientists that including global warming as a topic in your research paper will mean you will get a grant that you would otherwise not get.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Coal fires?

Maybe volcanoes?

But first off how many zeroes is 5x 10^13. It seems quite a lot. as compared to the 5 part in sort of thing. Rather like the huge increase in water temperatures for and el nino event turning out to be 0000000000000.6 degrees C.

Or the 30 or so millionths of a glowballs warming catastrophe supply of carbon dioxide, requiring the immediate cessation of the petrochemical industry.

Personal thoughts?

It's down to the overfishing of virtually everywhere. Toxic plankton blooms are likely to be the reason the ice melted in the first place as well as the source of the bromide. Not much was stated about the presence of iodides was it?

Or any other excessive fall out?

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Unhappy

What have I done?

I have just replaced 640 watts of tungsten lights in our living room with 110 watts of fluorescent lights. Am I now going to poison the world with Mercury instead of Carbon dioxide?

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