There is increasing public concern regarding the potential risks posed by mercury and mercury compounds. Knowledge of the mercury emission and release inventory, and determination of the main factors that ameliorate the environmental impact of anthropogenic activities, will contribute to environmentally sound mercury management. This study used a life cycle impact assessment to identify the major factors contributing to the overall environmental burden imposed by elemental mercury releases. The environmental impact of the business-as-usual scenario (total impacts = 5.13 GPt) was greater than that of the accelerated technology transformation (ACR) scenario (total impacts = 4.51 GPt), especially in terms of the impact on human health (HH). ACR mainly reduces mercury emissions to air, which affects HH. Compared to its effects on HH, mercury release to the environment has less impact on ecosystem diversity (ED). Mercury release to land had the largest impact on ED, followed by mercury emissions to air and discharge to water. ACR can reduce the harm to HH and marine ecosystems by 12 %. This study provides quantitative information on the environmental impact of mercury release, facilitating strategic management of mercury emissions in line with the Minamata Convention on Mercury (implemented in China in 2017).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)