Mercury is a neurotoxic heavy metal that pose a risk to the public as well as the environmental health. It is a naturally occurring element that is released into the environment from the natural or anthropogenic emissions. Among the anthropogenic emissions, coal-fired powerplants account for approximately 50 percent of the emissions because of the lack of regulations for the emissions from these facilities. The other larger sources of mercury emissions such as municipal waste combustors and medical waste incinerators are subjected to the stringent regulations thereby minimizing their total contribution. Mercury is a natural component of coal and is released into the environment during the combustion of coal. Use of coals that contain less mercury can reduce the total mercury emissions. Mercury is liberated into the environment in several forms that can be categorized into elemental, inorganic and organic mercury. All these forms differ in their degree of toxicity and the utmost toxic species is the organic mercury. After emitting from the powerplants, mercury circulates in the atmosphere and gets deposited on the land and surface waters where the toxic species of mercury are formed. Reducing the mercury emissions from the powerplants can reduce the risk of this neurotoxic metal on humans. The use of control technology can significantly reduce the total mercury emissions in the future in a timely and cost effective manner.


Environmental Public Health | Public Health | Toxicology