Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School



Mercury contamination of many marine coastal environments and some inland waters has resulted from discharger of mercury contained in industrial waters. In addition, the extensive use of mercury compounds as agricultural seed dressings, fungicides in paints, a slimicide in paper and pulp manufacturing and other uses have added to the environmental mercury burden. Even though a ban on the discharge of mercury is in effect, and agricultural and domestic uses of mercury have been greatly restricted, the problem continues. It has been estimated that it may be hundreds of years before the Great Lakes, contaminated by mercury from the chlorine-caustic soda industry, returns to normal (Jernelov, 1970). This also appears applicable to a portion of South Dakota’s Oahe Reservoir, and particularly the Cheyenne River and its tributaries from the Black Hills. For a century, these streams have received mercury released following its use in the amalgamation of gold. Bacteria in bottom sediments convert mercury to the highly toxic methylmercury. Accumulations in fish and waterfowl may exceed the recommended Food and Drug Administration limit of0.5 p.p.m (EPA, 1971 and Greichus et al., 1973). It was from fish and shell fish that people around Minamata Bay, Japan were exposed to methylmercury killing or disabling more than 121 during the period 1953-1960. This was following by similar incidents in other coastal areas. Selenium, while toxic itself, has been shown to interact with mercury reducing toxicity of the mercury. On the other hand, arsenic interacts with selenium. The experiment described herein was conducted with chicks to investigate interrelationships between the elements, especially the effect of selenium and arsenic on mercury toxicity, and tissue retention and distribution of these elements.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Mercury -- Toxicology




Arsenic -- Toxicology



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University