The fog along the coast of California is depositing a neurotoxin called monomethyl mercury in San Franciso — at a concentration about 20 times that of rain — thought to come from burning coal and other fossil fuels, according to “Understanding the mechanism — a process that reaches into the ocean, pulls out a neurotoxin, then shuttles it ashore in fog — is very important,” said Kenneth Coale of the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. “This is a completely new pathway.”

“We’re seeing that there’s mercury along the coast at every level in the plants, in the herbivores, in the carnivores,” Peter Weiss-Penzias, an atmospheric chemist at UC Santa Cruz, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel. The Sentinel reports that, “Mercury poisoning can damage the brain and nervous system and impair reproductive functions.” According to Popular Science, Coale and Weiss-Penzias found that levels of mercury “were 19 times higher in fog than in rain, even in the same area.” FULL REPORT