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Eight-legged bags of poison

Spiders, and other critters, carry mercury up the food chain

If you know an old lady who swallowed a spider, tell her to cough it up. Spiders and insects living near a mercury-contaminated river contain unusually high levels of the toxic metal, and it is turning up in area songbirds, a new study finds.

“We think of mercury as an aquatic problem,” comments wildlife toxicologist Tony Scheuhammer of National Wildlife Research Centre in Ottawa. “This study shows a particular way that it can become a terrestrial ecosystem problem.”

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