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Mercury

7. What further research and information is needed?

  • 7.1 What are the needs of individual countries?
  • 7.2 What are the global data gaps?

7.1 What are the needs of individual countries?

The source document for this Digest states:

A number of countries have in their submissions to UNEP expressed a need for establishing or improving their national "database" (i.e. knowledge of and information on uses and emissions, sources of releases, levels in the environment and prevention and control options) on mercury and mercury compounds. Although the situation varies from country to country, there seems to be a general need for information relevant to the various elements of an environmental management strategy for mercury. Also, countries with a longer tradition of environmental management of mercury have expressed the need to continue to expand their knowledge base on mercury to improve risk assessment and ensure effective risk management. Some of the needs include, among others:

  • Inventories of national use, consumption and environmental releases of mercury;
  • Monitoring of current levels of mercury in various media (such as air, air deposition, surface water) and biota (such as fish, wildlife and humans) and assessment of the impacts of mercury on humans and ecosystems, including impacts from cumulative exposures to different mercury forms;
  • Information on transport, transformation, cycling, and fate of mercury in various compartments;
  • Data and evaluation tools for human and ecological risk assessments;
  • Knowledge and information on possible prevention and reduction measures relevant to the national situation;
  • Public awareness-raising on the potential adverse impacts of mercury and proper handling and waste management practises;
  • Appropriate tools and facilities for accessing existing information relevant to mercury and mercury compounds at national, regional and international levels;
  • Capacity building and physical infrastructure for safe management of hazardous substances, including mercury and mercury compounds, as well as training of personnel handling such hazardous substances.
  • Information on the commerce and trade of mercury and mercury-containing materials.

In principle, some parts of this information might be exchanged nationally, regionally or internationally, as its relevance is often universal, however, it might need to be "translated" into the context of the individual country’s framework of traditions, economic and industrial activities and political reality. This, in itself, demands a substantial degree of priority, knowledge and funding. Other parts of the information are country specific and would require national efforts to research, collect and process the information.

Source & ©: UNEP Global Mercury Assessment report, Summary of the Report, 
Chapter 10, paragraphs 134 & 135

For more information, see Chapter 10: Data Gaps 

7.2 What are the global data gaps?

The source document for this Digest states:

Although mercury is probably among the best-studied environmental toxicants, there are data gaps in the basic understanding of a number of general, global issues relevant to mercury. Based on submitted information and the compilation and evaluation hereof, a possible division of current data gaps of global relevance on mercury could be as follows (not in order of priority):

  • Understanding and quantification of the natural mechanisms affecting the fate of mercury in the environment, such as mobilisation, transformation, transports and intake. In other words, the pathways of mercury in the environment, and from the environment to humans.
  • Understanding and quantification – in a global perspective – of the human conduct in relation to mercury releases, and the resulting human contributions to the local, regional and global mercury burden. In other words, the pathways of mercury from humans to the environment.
  • Understanding of how and to what degree humans, ecosystems and wildlife are adversely affected by the current mercury levels found in the local, regional and global environment. In other words, the possible effects, number affected, and the magnitude and severeness in those affected.

A basic understanding has been established for all three categories mentioned above, based on about half a century's extensive research on the impacts and pathways of mercury. However, in a number of areas, further research is needed to provide new information to improve environmental modelling assessments and modern decision-making tools. Despite these gaps in information, a sufficient understanding has been developed of mercury (including knowledge of its fate and transport, health and environmental impacts, and the role of human activity) that international action to address the global adverse impacts of mercury should not be delayed.

Source & ©: UNEP Global Mercury Assessment report, Summary of the Report, 
Chapter 10, paragraphs 134 & 135

For more information, see Chapter 10: Data Gaps 


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