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Case Study: Water Contamination from Mercury and Dioxins

Information is provided about a variety of inorganic and organic compounds that can threaten water quality.
Red and white factory chimney spewing out smoke
© University of Turin

Organic compounds, particularly dioxins, dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and heavy metals such as mercury, threaten the water quality of streams, lakes and rivers.

Organic compounds share two features that make them very dangerous. Firstly, they have a very long half-life and remain in the environment for long periods of time since they are resistant to both physicochemical and biological degradation. Moreover, those compounds accumulate in the fat tissues leading to a highly toxic potential because they affect a number of organs and systems and bio-accumulate along the food chain.

If you want to find out more information about dioxins, PCBs and mercury exposure and their impact on food you can find some interesting fact sheets in the download section below.

What we would like you to do

In the discussion area please consider the following questions:

  • Have you heard of Persistent Organic Pollutants (or POPs) before?

  • What is the risk of this type of water pollution to human health?

© University of Turin
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