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Environ Geochem Health. 2016 Feb;38(1):309-13. doi: 10.1007/s10653-015-9704-1. Epub 2015 Apr 18.

A gradient of mercury concentrations in Scottish single malt whiskies.

Author information

1
Department of Geography, Environmental Change Research Centre, University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, UK. n.rose@ucl.ac.uk.
2
Department of Geography, Environmental Change Research Centre, University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, UK.

Abstract

Mercury (Hg) concentrations were measured in 26 Scottish single malt whiskies, and all found to be very low (<10 ng L(-1)), posing no threat to human health through reasonable levels of consumption. However, a significant south-to-north declining gradient in Hg concentrations was observed reflecting that reported for atmospheric deposition. We speculate that this gradient could be due to a combination of contemporary deposition and the legacy of industrial mercury emissions and deposition over the last 200 years affecting concentrations in local waters used in whisky production. As UK atmospheric emissions of mercury have declined by 90 % since the 1970s, we suggest that whisky being produced today should have even lower Hg concentrations when consumed in 10- to 15-years time. This reduction may be compromised by the remobilisation of contaminants stored in catchment soils being transferred to source waters, but is very unlikely to raise the negligible health risk due to Hg from Scottish single malt whisky consumption.

KEYWORDS:

Atmospheric deposition; Human health; Mercury; Whisky

PMID:
25893487
DOI:
10.1007/s10653-015-9704-1
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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