governmentchemist


United Nations Environment Programme Concerns over Mercury by Nick Boley

Welcome back for the first blog of 2013.

UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme, has expressed concern over the level of mercury emissions globally,  but especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Mercury is highly toxic to humans, and is used in many industries across the world. It can find its way into airborne emissions (due to its volatility) as well as into water and land. In the form of methylmercury, an organic mercury complex which is bioaccumulative, it is particularly toxic.

Mercury is one of the more difficult metals measured in the laboratory, but modern techniques such as ICP-MS have overcome some of the historic difficulties. However, monitoring mercury levels, and establishing which mercury species is present in a contaminated situation, still presents challenges to analytical laboratories. It is always recommended to ensure that competent laboratories, with accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025 are used to carry out mercury measurements.

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