Science Summary to Inform Global Policy on Mercury Reductions

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Mercury is a widespread pollutant that poses health risks to humans and wildlife at a global scale. Addressing these risks requires science-based integrated policy approaches.

illustration of effects of mercury exposure

Figure 1. Reprinted with permission from Chen, C., Driscoll, C.T., Eagles-Smith, C.A., Eckley, C.S., Gay, D., Hsu-Kim, H., Keane, S., Kirk, J., Mason, R., Obrist, D., Selin, H., Selin, N., Thompson, M., 2018, A critical time for mercury science to inform global policy: Environmental Science and Technology, p. online, https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.8b02286

(Copyright 2018 American Chemical Society)

USGS scientists collaborated with US and Canadian scientists from governmental agencies, universities, and non-governmental organizations to summarize the state of knowledge on mercury as a global pollutant and identify critical areas where research is needed to inform policy decisions. They reviewed recent advances in the understanding of mercury release, cycling, bioaccumulation, and health effects. They also identified critical knowledge gaps such as impacts of climate change on mercury cycling and synergistic effects of methylmercury on human health when there is a co-occurance of other contaminants or diseases. The recent implementation of an international treaty by 128 signatory nations to reduce mercury pollution and health risks, makes this a critical time for science to inform global policy. 

 

Chen, C., Driscoll, C.T., Eagles-Smith, C.A., Eckley, C.S., Gay, D., Hsu-Kim, H., Keane, S., Kirk, J., Mason, R., Obrist, D., Selin, H., Selin, N., Thompson, M., 2018, A critical time for mercury science to inform global policy: Environmental Science and Technology, p. online, https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.8b02286