Mercury - Time to act
We sometimes hear the term “mercury-free world” which seems a contradiction because mercury is an element.
Thus, mercury always will be present. What can the international community do about this?
- It is true that mercury, as an element, will always be present in our environment. Nonetheless, it is a pollutant of concern so our main aim is to reduce, and where feasible eliminate, anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury. Over time, this will decrease the environmental load, and reduce the amount of mercury which is re-emitted.
- While there will be mercury in the environment, whether it is considered to be a supply will depend on whether there is a demand. If there are still essential uses which require mercury, there will need to be a source of mercury. The aim of the international community is to reduce uses as viable alternatives to mercury become available. Over time, this will reduce the demand for mercury, cutting the market and the interest in mercury supply. Yes, mercury will always be with us and there is significant supply in circulation today. Thus, rather than to continue primary mining of mercury, we should be looking at the supply that is already in circulation for use until viable alterna tives are found. The mercury that is obtained from decommis sioned chlor-alkali plants and other processes or products as they are phased out and have no further use, should be moved immediately to environmentally sound disposal facilities.