UNEP GLOBAL MERCURY ASSESSMENT 2018
UNEPs Governing Council has charged UNEP with updating its 2013 Global Mercury Assessment (GMA) within a period of 6 years, i.e. for delivery no later than 2019.
Methods for estimating global emission and release inventories will be similar to those employed in the GMA 2013 inventory prepared by UNEP/AMAP for the year 2010 with new work with respect to quantification of releases of mercury to the aquatic environment. Environmental fate, transport and occurrence will be summarised based on existing knowledge, models and databases. The technical background report will be structured around the following 5 components:
Updating the inventory of global emissions of mercury to air from anthropogenic sources in 2015. This component will include the development of updated global and country level estimates using a methodology similar to that employed in the GMA 2013. Work will be undertaken to improve the basis for the estimates through a review of new information i.e. activity data, new emission control technologies, new data on mercury consumption. New sectors will be addressed where relevant.
Development of estimates of releases of mercury to the aquatic environment from anthropogenic sources (target year 2015). The GMA 2018 will attempt to compile a comprehensive global inventory of releases of mercury to water from anthropogenic sources by using methods adopted from the UNEP Toolkit complemented with other studies and inventories.
Updating information on modelling of atmospheric transport of mercury from source to receptor regions. Modelling of long-range atmospheric transport of mercury will be updated to incorporate new information and results from additional/improved models. Focus of the work will be on global source-receptor modelling results. Results of regional modelling will also be reviewed with respect to recent modelling developments.
Updating information on mercury transport and fate in aquatic environments. Current knowledge on aquatic cycling of mercury will be updated to incorporate new information and results from relevant models, including evaluation of mercury contributions from anthropogenic vs. natural sources.
Updating information on environmental levels and trends of mercury in air, biota and humans. Observations of mercury in air will be updated to incorporate new information. New sections covering levels and trends of mercury in (aquatic) biota and in humans will be included in this assessment. Biota sections will prioritise species that are important indicators of contamination, sources of exposure to humans (e.g. consumed fish species) or species potentially affected by mercury contamination (e.g., fish feeding birds).
THE GEO FLAGSHIP ON GLOBAL OBSERVING SYSTEM FOR MERCURY (GOS4M) IN SUPPORTING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE MINAMATA CONVENTION
A first attempt to develop a global observing system for mercury was carried out within the GMOS (Global Mercury Observation System) project (www.gmos.eu). For the next decade GMOS will continue its activity as part of the GEO (2016-2025) Strategic Plan and its GEO Flagship Global Observing System for Mercury (GOS4M). GOS4M will continue, like GMOS, to support the achievement of goals and objectives of the UNEP Fate Transport Partnership Area, that among others, include the support to nations in the implementation of the Minamata Convention. Main objectives of GOS4M are to: (i) invite existing mercury monitoring networks i.e., GMOS, NADP, Asia Pacific Mercury Monitoring Network, AMAP, EMEP, Environment Canada Network, GBMS, to cooperate and elaborate a shared vision and the future governance of a worldwide observing system for mercury that would involve representatives of governments, monitoring networks, NGOs and UNEP; (ii) increase the availability and quality of Earth Observation data and information to track mercury releases and anticipate changes in the global environment; (iii) support harmonized metadata production, archiving and sharing within the mercury network; (iv) develop advanced web services for using and discovering information from metadata and data coherent with GEO Sharing Principles in cooperation with nations and UNEP in support of the policy mandate through the Minamata Convention. Therefore the aim of this oral presentation is to highlight major initiatives and actions already in place in the framework of GEO Strategic Plan (2016-2025) and UNEP FT to support nations and UNEP in the implementation of the MC.
WHY UNDERSTANDING THE CHEMICAL COMPOSITION OF GASEOUS OXIDIZED HG IS IMPORTANT FOR GLOBAL AIR POLLUTION POLICY
Recent work has demonstrated that the chemical compounds of gaseous oxidized mercury (GOM) can vary across space and time, and concentrations may be 2-to-13 times higher than previously thought. In addition, due to lack of capture by the instrument currently applied in networks worldwide, and data from this instrument being used in models, dry deposition of GOM is underestimated. GOM collected using cation exchange membranes and nylon membranes provide evidence for this. This has significant implications for ecosystem and human health. Trajectory analyses and chemistry measured by thermal desorption analyses indicate that GOM chemistry is dependent on oxidants in the air. Thus, chemistry of GOM is intricately linked with oxidant chemistry that is impacted by humans in the planetary boundary layer and free troposphere. The different GOM compounds that have been identified include: HgBr2, HgCl2, HgO, Hg-nitrogen and sulfur compounds, 2 unknown compounds with clear peaks, and organic compounds.These different GOM compounds will have different deposition velocities, chemistry, and potential bioavailability. Data developed demonstrate that a variety of compounds can be produced in areas with mobile sources and the potential for organic compounds cannot be ruled out. Thus, deposition in cities and areas associated with high density of mobile sources may be exacerbated. This new information is important when considering implementation of the Minimata Convention. Any atom of elemental mercury (Hgo) that is emitted can be converted to GOM. Thus, reduction of emissions will facilitate reduction of production of GOM. In addition, it is important to consider that reduction of air pollution (atmospheric oxidants) will also reduce GOM deposition. Lastly, since coal combustion is a significant source of mercury, carbon, and oxidants, and these all impact everyone across the globe, management of Hg can also be done through management of interrelated gases.
ANTHROPOGENIC MERCURY IN RUSSIA: INVENTORY OF RELEASES, EMISSION TESTS, PRIORITIES FOR FURTHER ACTION
Development of comprehensive up-to-date inventories of mercury (Hg) releases at national and regional levels is needed to deepen the understanding of the global anthropogenic Hg cycle and to ensure effective measures under multilateral environmental agreements, primarily the Minamata Convention on Mercury. This paper describes the development of national inventory of anthropogenic Hg releases for the Russian Federation. Combination of various data and information sources, including Russian national statistics on activity rates, national industry reports, as well as previous national and international studies are used to estimate Hg releases into air, water and land. The inventory methodology is based on the 2015 edition of UN Environment-developed Toolkit for Identification and Quantification of Mercury. With respect to Hg emissions into the air, various emission factors, developed both domestically and internationally are used. Results of Hg emission tests performed at non-ferrous and cement plants in the Russian Federation complement the estimates of releases derived from application of the UN Environment methodology. Total anthropogenic releases of Hg in the Russian Federation are estimated to have been around 1.49 Gg in 2012. Releases into land contribute the largest fraction of 49% to the total releases of Hg in the country. These releases, however, are rather localized around major mining sites in the Asian part of Russia. The second largest fraction of releases belongs to the general waste category with about 19%. By-product and impurities category generates some 15% of releases. Emissions to air, as one of the key source of the global Hg transport are estimated to contribute some 6% to the total national Hg releases only. Primary metals production and energy generation are identified to be the main sources of emissions, with the energy generation sector leading in Hg emissions to air, and the primary metals production leading in Hg releases to land. Hg release hotspots are mainly located in historically industrialized areas on the Ural Mountains region, East and West Siberia, and South European part of Russia. Some heavily Hg-polluted territories from the past industrial activities and related mainly to chlorine production are also identified in the study. The study results suggest the need for the development of further environmental policies and regulations in the Russian Federation to effectively manage Hg releases pollution. The study is carried out within the joint UNEP-Global Environment Facility project Pilot Project on the Development of Mercury Inventory in the Russian Federation (GFL-2310-2760-4C83).
THE POTENTIAL ROLE OF PASSIVE AIR SAMPLING IN THE IMPLEMENTATION AND EFFECTIVENESS EVALUATION OF THE MINAMATA CONVENTION
Implementing and evaluating the effectiveness of the Minamata Convention requires the (1) identification and characterization of mercury sources to the atmosphere, (2) the long term monitoring of mercury in the vicinity of identified sources to assess effectiveness of local efforts to reduce emission to the atmosphere, and (3) long term monitoring at background sites to assess effectiveness of regional and global efforts to reduce emissions. The case will be made that passive sampling techniques for gaseous mercury in the atmosphere have now matured to the point, where they can play an important role in meeting all three of these requirements. Air concentrations are directly related to atmospheric emission rates and thus are most suitable for locating emissions spatially and tracking emissions temporally. While active air sampling techniques are well established and can reliably provide mercury concentrations at very high temporal resolution, they are expensive and require electrical power and trained operators. Passive air samplers are cheap, simple to deploy and require no power and therefore are most suited for recording spatial concentration variability. The primary limitations of passive air samplers do not affect their usefulness for meeting the three requirements. First, time-weighted average concentrations over extended periods of time are required for implementation and effectiveness evaluation, i.e. in most cases high temporal resolution is not necessary. Second, even if passive sampling accuracy may not (yet) be as high as for pumped samplers, it is mostly relative air concentration differences in space and time that are useful in implementation and effectiveness evaluation. Passive air samplers can be as accurate as active samplers in recording mercury concentration differences in space and in time. The talk will draw on experiences in using passive air sampler in (1) the effectiveness evaluation of the Stockholm Convention for Persistent Organic Pollutants and (2) in mercury source identification and characterization.
EVALUATING RELEASES OF MERCURY TO AQUATIC ENVIRONMENTS FOR MEETING NEEDS OF THE MINAMATA CONVENTION – GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
Control and reduction of mercury releases of aquatic systems are specific priorities addressed by the Minamata Convention. According to Article 9 of the Convention, each Party shall establish inventory of releases from relevant sources, and the Conference of the Parties shall adopt guidance on the methodology for preparing such inventories. However, there are no general or agreed upon approaches or methodologies that would serve this purpose. Moreover, in contrast to atmospheric emissions, aquatic Hg releases are greatly understudied. On a global scale, UNEP/AMAP Global Mercury Assessment (GMA) 2013 was the first attempt to compile a global inventory of such releases. However, this first inventory had large associated uncertainties. In this contribution, we will present an updated version of the inventory prepared for the GMA 2018, building on most recent information available and including new previously unaccounted for source categories. We will discuss data availability and methods used to estimate the releases. We will compare global estimates in the light of different assumptions and approaches used. The main focus will be on sectors of relevance for the Minamata Convention. Developed inventory estimates will be compared with available nationally reported releases estimates, independent databases/registers and other literature sources using different assumptions and approaches. Major components of uncertainties and their parametrization will also be addressed, as well as regional differences resulting from differences in environmental regulations and control technologies.
HOLISTIC PERSPECTIVE IS NEEDED TO ENSURE SUCCESS OF MINAMATA CONVENTION ON MERCURY
The Minamata Convention on Mercury (MC) will enter into force soon after 50 countries have ratified the MC. Many of the parties of MC are now developing their National Implementation Plans (NIP) which focus on fulfilling the obligations defined by the articles of MC. However, we found that there is an important weak point in the structure of MC which overlooked the inter-connections of articles. Like most international conventions, MC is organized by different articles. However, the obligation strength for the different articles are different. Some of the articles, for example, Article 12 on contaminated sites, are rather soft, the parties are only encouraged to take certain actions, and no firm obligations are defined. There is therefore a potential risk that Hg may shift from articles with firm obligations to articles with soft obligations. Since no mandatory actions are required, Hg pollution is not reduced from a holistic point of view. Furthermore, in the articles with firm obligations, no attention is paid to the processes after Hg is removed. Hg exists as impurities in either wastes or by-products. In many countries, the generated wastes will be utilized in order to minimize the volume of solid waste. This will cause secondary emission of Hg from waste/by-product utilization processes. Typical example is desulfurization gypsum from coal fired power plants will be used as building materials which may cause significant re-emission of Hg to air.
Based on our studies on the holistic Hg material flow, we identified two issues what need to be addressed in a timely manner. First, the parties should do a thorough survey of flows of Hg after Hg is removed from one sector (corresponding to one MC article). Secondly, holistic management measures should be taken to avoid Hg shifting from firm articles to soft articles.
UNIDO CASE STUDY IN MONGOLIA: REDUCE EXPOSURE OF MERCURY ON HUMAN HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT BY PROMOTING SOUND CHEMICAL MANAGEMENT
This technical cooperation project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) was designed to strengthen national and local capacity to effectively manage and reduce mercury emissions. Despite existing political will, the government of Mongolia did not have the full resources or the capacity to effectively manage mercury containing waste as well as historical mercury contamination hot-spots. In the case of the Boroo site in the Selenge province, the soil, sediment, water (surface and groundwater) and vegetation containing mercury are considered as mercury containing waste.
The project was executed in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism, the Ministry of Health and the Mine Reclamation Corporation (Mireco) of Korea, and a consortium led by Mayasa of Spain.
The following results were achieved by the project:
- Draft regulation on hazardous wastes, National regulation on mercury added products, wastes and mercury wastes of import, export, cross-border transport, sale, use, storage and disposal was submitted to the government for consideration
- An interim mercury waste storage building was constructed and currently receiving mercury and hazardous wastes
- Initial site assessment and sampling were performed at the Boroo site; theoretical and field training on characterization were conducted; monitoring and pilot testing of three remediation technologies for mercury contaminated sites were demonstrated
- Training package of 8 brochures to raise awareness on mercury management was prepared and published in Mongolian
- A short video (in Mongolian) on the promotion of mercury waste management was broadcasted on three national TV channels to support a national wide campaign to collect mercury containing wastes
- The project presents an interesting case study and is one of the first successfully completed projects funded by the GEF in promoting mercury management at contaminated sites. The project can serve as an example for future technical cooperation project development.