Recommended Actions for the Reduction or Elimination of Mercury Releases
According to UNEP (2002), the releases of mercury to the biosphere can be grouped in four categories:
Natural sources - releases due to natural mobilisation of naturally occurring mercury from the Earth's crust, such as volcanic activity and weathering of rocks;
Current anthropogenic (associated with human activity) releases from the mobilisation of mercury impurities in raw materials such as fossil fuels – mainly coal, and to a lesser extent gas and oil – and other extracted, treated and recycled minerals;
Current anthropogenic releases resulting from mercury used intentionally in products and processes, due to releases during manufacturing, leaks, disposal or incineration of spent products or other releases;
Re-mobilisation of historic anthropogenic mercury releases previously deposited in soils, sediments, water bodies, landfills and waste/tailings piles.
UNEP further stated in the same report that two of these categories (a) releases due to natural mobilisation of mercury and (d) re-mobilisation of anthropogenic mercury previously deposited in soils, sediments and water bodies, are not well understood and largely beyond human control hence there are no immediate solutions for their reduction. Hence in this mercury plan for the Philippines, only the anthropogenic sources (b) and (c) will be addressed here.
In 2006, UNEP Chemicals published the Guide for Reducing Major Uses and Releases of Mercury which was prepared in cooperation with ILO, FAO, WHO, UNIDO, UNITAR, and OECD which are collectively called IOMC (Inter-organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals). It contains examples from around the world on specific technologies and methods on how to reduce mercury pollution and minimize risk to the public. Each one is organized under similar headings per activity consisting of the following information:
Main mercury releases (air, water, soil, production, use, disposal)
Mercury reduction options (alternative technologies, other mercury reduction strategies)
Assessment of options (feasibility, costs, benefits, advantages, disadvantages)
Actual cases, examples
Waste management issues, options
Implementation and enforcement, costs, barriers
Information sources, references, websites