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Measurement of mercury in the atmosphere is improved by results of EMPIR project

Image showing the view of clouds through the potral of a plane
View of clouds through the porthole of a plane

UNEP recognises EMPIR project’s significant steps towards improving the measurement comparability of mercury levels in the environment

EMPIR project ‘Metrology for oxidised mercury’ (16ENV01, MercOx) is developing traceable methods that will improve the measurement comparability of mercury levels present in the atmosphere and in industrial gases. Mercury is a highly toxic metal that can severely impact human and animal health. Importantly, it exists not only in the elemental state, but also in oxidised and other more reactive, bio-accumulative forms. The project has developed the metrology required for accurately monitoring mercury levels in the environment, fundamentally helping with the implementation of important EU environmental directives.

This project is working to bridge the gap from results obtained in two previous EMRP projects, to develop traceable measurement protocols for monitoring all species of mercury with improved uncertainties. The two previous EMRP projects are ‘Emerging requirements for measuring pollutants from automotive exhaust emissions’ (ENV02, PartEmission) and ‘Traceability for mercury measurements’ (ENV51, MeTra).

The measurement of mercury in the atmosphere is recognised as a key indicator for evaluating the effectiveness of the Minamata Convention, a global treaty of the UNEP to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. In November 2018, at the 2nd Conference of Parties (COP) held by the UNEP at their headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the organisation emphasised the significant contributions of EMPIR project MercOx to improving the measurement comparability of mercury on a global scale.

The results of this project will undoubtedly improve the measurement capabilities of environmental agencies, creating a reliable and consistent basis for reporting mercury emissions, and allowing the legislative levels of control required by the Minamata Convention to be safely met.

This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.
 


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