Studies, such as the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) 2011 Assessment of Mercury in the Arctic, has shown that toxic mercury levels found in Arctic wildlife is high above natural levels, and the levels are rising at a disturbing rate.
Mercury is a highly toxic element, that is present in liquid form at standard temperatures. The element is absorbed and accumulated in the food chain, causing problems for top-level predators and humans. Among the symptoms for mercury poisoning is birth defects and neurological damage.
Although mercury is present in our environment, most of the rising levels are attributed to mining and burning of coal and oil. Pollution is occurring world-wide and transported by winds and ocean currents to the Arctic.