Thursday 11 October 2012

The pollutant of greatest concern

Mercury is moving towards the top of the agenda for regulatory bodies and interest from the public domain is growing. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) now defines mercury as “the pollutant of greatest concern”.

In response to this, the organisers of the 11th International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant (ICMGP) are finalising plans for an event that will bring together the world’s leading authorities on mercury pollution to ensure that global action on this pollutant is coordinated and effective.

Previous ICMGP events took place in Canada, USA, Germany, Brazil, Japan, Slovenia and China. Mercury 2013 will be held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Scotland, from 28th July to 2nd August 2013.

Sessions will include themes such as monitoring, environmental biogeochemistry, atmospheric transport and human exposure. The conference is timely because it follows the finalisation of the UNEP Global Legally Binding Instrument on Mercury. Delegates may be particularly interested in special sessions which reflect the tagline of the Mercury 2013 which is: ‘Science Informing Global Policy’. The ICMGP will provide that important link between those governments, regulatory authorities and industries that need answers to their mercury issues and those scientists and organisations with expertise to provide the most appropriate solution.

The overall objective of the UNEP convention is to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic releases of mercury and its compounds. Since mercury touches many areas of global science, the conference programme promises to be diverse and interesting, covering occupational exposure by small scale gold miners and indigenous fish-eating communities, cleaning contaminated land, reducing emissions from industries such as coal combustion and cement production, and handling mercury containing materials such batteries and even dental amalgam.

Mercury 2013 is expected to attract between 800 and 1200 delegates and will include an exhibition featuring all of the world’s leading organisations connected with mercury. The organisers have announced that, even though the event is nearly a year away, only a few stands remain and these will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

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