Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Madison Declaration On Mercury Pollution

Mar 8: AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment, published "The Madison Declaration on Mercury Pollution," in its latest issue. Much of the current issue is devoted to mercury pollution. The Declaration summarizes the scientific and technical conclusions presented by four expert panels in their critical synthesis manuscripts and in plenary sessions at the Eighth International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant, convened in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, on August 6–11, 2006. The 1150 registered participants in the conference constituted a diverse, multinational body of scientific and technical expertise on environmental mercury pollution. The Declaration conveys the panels' principal findings and their consensus conclusions on key policy-relevant questions concerning atmospheric sources of mercury, methylmercury exposure and its effects on humans and wildlife, socioeconomic consequences of mercury pollution, and recovery of mercury-contaminated fisheries.

One of the key findings is that, "The health risks posed by mercury-contaminated fish are sufficient to warrant issuing a worldwide general warning to the public -- especially children and women of childbearing age -- to be careful about how much and which fish they eat.

Five other major findings in the declaration were: (1) On average, three times more mercury is falling from the sky today than before the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago as a result of the increasing use of mercury and industrial emissions. (2) The uncontrolled use of mercury in small-scale gold mining is contaminating thousands of sites around the world, posing long-term health risks to an estimated 50 million inhabitants of mining regions. These activities alone contribute more than 10 percent of the mercury in Earth’s atmosphere attributable to human activities today. (3) Little is known about the behavior of mercury in marine ecosystems and methylmercury in marine fish, the ingestion of which is the primary way most people at all levels of society worldwide are exposed to this highly toxic form of mercury. (4) Methylmercury exposure at present levels constitutes a public health problem in many parts of the world. (5) Methylmercury levels in fish-eating birds and mammals in some parts of the world are reaching toxic levels, which may lead to population declines in these species and possibly in fish populations as well.

Access the abstract and link to the full text article which requires a subscription to the journal (
click here). Access the contents of the latest AMBIO (click here). Access a release on the Declaration summarizing further findings (click here). Access the Preface and the Madison Declaration on Mercury Pollution (click here). Access the Declaration with nontechnical summary of principal findings (click here). Access complete information about the Madison conference including: unedited, full-length videotapes of all four panel presentations (click here). [*Toxics]