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Prevention and control technologies and practices

The specific methods for controlling mercury releases are many and the uses depend upon local circumstances that are classified in two groups: preventive measures and control measures. These are described more in the following sections.

Preventive Measures


Reducing consumption of raw materials and products that generate mercury releases

Reducing consumption of raw materials and products that generate mercury releases is a preventive measure for mercury containing products and processes, but may also result from improved efficiencies in the use of raw materials or in the use of fuels for power generation such as using natural gas for power generation instead of coal, although a more expensive option. UNEP suggests the following measures to reduce consumption:


Eliminating or limiting, when no alternative exists, content of mercury present as such or as impurities in high volume materials such as packaging;


Preventing or limiting products containing mercury from being marketed nationally;


Preventing or limiting products (for example batteries, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics etc) containing mercury from being exported and imported;


Preventing or limiting the marketing of used or commodity-grade mercury;


Promote, develop, and encourage direct investments in clean technologies that do not use mercury.


Substitution (or elimination) of products, processes and practices containing or using mercury with non-mercury alternatives

Substitution of products and processes containing or using mercury with products and processes without mercury has been proven to be powerful to deter the flow of mercury through the economy and environment. It may substantially reduce mercury in households, the environment, the waste stream, industrial emissions and landfills.  Substitutions are mostly cost-effective including conversion of a fossil-fueled generating plant to a non-fossil technology.

UNEP suggests the following specific measures:

(a)Limiting or preventing use of mercury in products where alternatives exist and promoting development of appropriate alternatives for remaining essential uses;

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