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Integrating mercury science and policy in the marine context: challenges and opportunities

Integrating mercury science and policy in the marine context: challenges and opportunities

Environmental Research 119: 132-142

Mercury is a global pollutant and presents policy challenges at local, regional, and global scales. Mercury poses risks to the health of people, fish, and wildlife exposed to elevated levels of mercury, most commonly from the consumption of methylmercury in marine and estuarine fish. The patchwork of current mercury abatement efforts limits the effectiveness of national and multi-national policies. This paper provides an overview of the major policy challenges and opportunities related to mercury in coastal and marine environments, and highlights science and policy linkages of the past several decades. The U.S. policy examples explored here point to the need for a full life cycle approach to mercury policy with a focus on source reduction and increased attention to: (1) the transboundary movement of mercury in air, water, and biota; (2) the coordination of policy efforts across multiple environmental media; (3) the cross-cutting issues related to pollutant interactions, mitigation of legacy sources, and adaptation to elevated mercury via improved communication efforts; and (4) the integration of recent research on human and ecological health effects into benefits analyses for regulatory purposes. Stronger science and policy integration will benefit national and international efforts to prevent, control, and minimize exposure to methylmercury.

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Accession: 036543102

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PMID: 22901766

DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2012.06.002

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