Integrating Knowledge to Inform Mercury Policy

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Earth Sciences

Abstract

Mercury is found in many consumer products, including LCD screens and energy-efficient lightbulbs. It is emitted to the environment when products containing mercury are disposed of, as well as from industrial processes such as coal fired power plants. Mercury can, however, be a human health hazard; particularly as it has a tendency to accumulate in fish. Consequently, the UK together with it's European neighbours has been for a number of years trying to find ways of reducing the amount of mercury in the environment. Within the next three years a total ban on mercury in consumer products will be introduced to further curtail the amount of mercury entering the global environment. Mercury is also emitted into the environment from a number of natural sources such as volcanoes, but there are significant uncertainties as to the relative contribution of these natural sources versus industrial processes and consumer products. We will only be able to confirm with reasonable confidence whether the above European Union policies have had the impact intended once we fully understand the contribution of both man-made and natural sources of mercury. We wish to establish a knowledge transfer network to bring academic institutes, industry and government together to address some of these questions. This will be done by means of workshops, reports and a website. By bringing together these three sectors, the Initiative will provide government with the opportunity to explicitly request information from academia and industry which will help to guide and formulate future mercury policy. Only through mutually beneficial interaction will be able to successfully develop and implement policy which will reduce the risk from mercury in the environment.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description This project was a knowledge exchange initiative funded from 2008 - 2011, designed to review what is and what is not known about the fate of mercury in the environment. A particular focus of the project was to ensure that the UK scientific and technical knowledge base is used to inform and guide public policy relating to mercury.



The full project outcomes have been reported in previous versions of the Research Outputs Database.
Exploitation Route One of the major outcomes was the preparation of a briefing paper on pathways for mercury disposal. This paper was subsequently adopted as a briefing document by the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP. The work of the project was disseminated via workshops and briefings, and on the IKIMP website.
Sectors Environment

URL http://www.mercurynetwork.org.uk/
 
Description Our work on disposal of redundant mercury was taken up by the UN Environment Programme, and folded into the final discussions for the Minamata convention on Mercury, 2013.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Chemicals,Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Title AshCalc 
Description A web tool to allow volcanologists to determine the volume of a volcanic deposit from their own field data 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact We have shared this tool on V-hub, the main platform for volcano-related software tools, and made it freely accessible to researchers around the world. 
URL https://vhub.org/resources/ashcalc
 
Description Costing the Earth 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interviewed as part of Lava: A Dangerous Game
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b055g73y
 
Description George and the Blue Moon 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact I wrote a science essay in a children's book
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.penguin.co.uk/puffin/books/1097513/george-and-the-blue-moon/
 
Description Life Scientific 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 30 min programme on Radio 4's Life Scientific broadcast at 9am and via podcast
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08t0d3w
 
Description Oxford Science Blog on impacts of volcanic gases 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Wrote a blog about fieldwork
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/science-blog/living-volcanic-gases-0
 
Description The Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Panel discussion The Unpredictable Planet: Understanding Volcanoes and Earthquakes on BBC World Service
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p041svq3
 
Description The Infinite Monkey Cage 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Part of a panel on The Infinite Monkey Cage with Brian Cox, Robin Ince, comedian Jo Brand and Clive Oppenheimer on BBC Radio 4.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09r47j1