iStock Mercury from outside the Arctic is polluting the region 10 May 2021MonitoringRecommendationsPollutantsArctic Contaminants Action ProgramArctic Monitoring and Assessment ProgrammePathways AMAP Working Group lays a scientific foundation while ACAP WG implements projects to stimulate actions to reduce emissions. This is how they work together to inspire change. Mercury has long been identified as a toxic contaminant that can have serious health implications globally, causing increasing concern within the Arctic. Mercury is released as a result of human activities such as the combustion of fossil fuels, mining and metal production, cement manufacturing and waste incineration in addition to natural sources like volcanos. Most of these mercury-emitting activities occur outside the Arctic – so why is the region impacted by mercury pollution? Most mercury pollution is brought to the Arctic via long-range transport from lower latitudes by air and ocean pathways. This underscores the importance of pollution sources in southern regions joining efforts to reduce emissions. Once emitted, mercury is cycled and recycled in the environment, taking different chemical forms along the way. Particularly concerning is mercury’s ability to accumulate over time in living organisms. This creates a buildup in each successive level of the food chain, exposing wildlife and human populations – especially some Arctic Indigenous peoples and local communities that rely on marine animals as part of a traditional diet. High concentrations of mercury built up in the body can lead to troubling health effects. In humans, mercury can cause neurological damage, and hinder the development of children. In wildlife, health risks are overall low. However, geographic areas that have elevated levels of methylmercury – mercury’s most toxic form – can be a concern for some populations of fish, birds, polar bears, pilot whales, narwhals, beluga and hooded seals.