• ICMGP 2022 mercury conference will be ‘virtual’

Environmental Laboratory

ICMGP 2022 mercury conference will be ‘virtual’

Jun 01 2022

The 15th International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant (ICMGP) will be a virtual event; taking place online from 25th to 29th July 2022. Focusing on the science and policy of mercury in the environment, the conference will bring together around 1,000 mercury stakeholders from around the world, including researchers, academics, medical practitioners, government regulators, lobbyists, measurement and abatement technology providers, and industrial process operators from sectors such as mining, energy, metals, cement and waste management.

“We have been delighted with the quality and volume of papers that have been submitted,” explains Conference Chair Dr Lynwill Martin. “Consequently, we have been able to design this year’s conference program to reflect the multi-faceted challenge that mercury represents. For example, speakers will provide updates on the latest research and initiatives being undertaken in all of the main sources of mercury emissions.

“Monitoring, analysis and regulation will form a common thread in many of the presentations, and the latest information will be provided on human exposure and risk assessment, as well as mercury status and its impact on different ecosystems.

“The effects of climate change on global mercury cycling will be addressed by a number of speakers, and of course there will be updates on the progress which is being made on the implementation of the Minamata Convention.”

Virtual Conference
Explaining the advantages of the online platform, organiser Marcus Pattison says: “Naturally, everyone would prefer to meet in person, but there are several major advantages to be gained from the platform that we developed and utilised for a number of technical conferences during the Covid pandemic.

“The main benefits are time and cost, because registered delegates can log in conveniently from wherever they are, without having to travel. However, our platform also provides delegates with the opportunity to search for, and interact with other delegates and speakers. This is a far more effective method of networking than hoping to bump into the right people at a drinks reception, for example.

“All of the presentations will be recorded, which means that registered delegates will be able to retrospectively view any of them. This is a major advantage with a conference of this size; because with so much going on, it is not always possible to view everything ‘live’.”

Mercury is a naturally occurring element, but even small amounts can be toxic to humans and ecosystems. Mercury exposure can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and immune system. The main concern is the impact of mercury on foetuses and young children.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) designated mercury a chemical of global concern
in 2006. This was because of its long-range transport capability in the atmosphere, its persistence in
the environment, its toxicity, its ability to bio-accumulate in ecosystems and its negative effects on human health.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury, a legally binding instrument to control mercury pollution, entered into force in 2017 and currently has 137 Parties. Several of the ICMGP speakers will describe case studies, demonstrating how the Convention is being implemented.

Anthropogenic emissions account for around 30% of mercury emitted annually to the atmosphere, the remainder coming from environmental processes (60%) that result in re-emission of mercury previously deposited to soils and water (much of which is itself derived from earlier anthropogenic emissions and releases), and natural sources (~10%).

The legacy of the human use of mercury has resulted in hundreds of thousands of tonnes of mercury being released into the environment. The European Environment Agency has estimated that the levels of mercury in the atmosphere at the moment are up to 500 % above natural levels, and about 200 % above natural levels in the oceans. This mercury legacy explains why the reduction of mercury pollution in the global environment is a long-term effort, even though many of the mercury reduction initiatives that will be described at ICMGP 2022, such as reducing air emissions, can deliver immediate local benefits.

Conference sessions include:
• Addressing global Hg challenges in a changing world
• Analytical methods for Hg speciation to assess impacts of Climate Change
• Atmospheric Hg cycling: Source & Emissions
• Case studies on implementing the Minamata Convention
• Communities, Hg and Climate Change
• Energy/ Fossil Fuels
• How are we doing in implementing the Minamata Convention?
• Human Exposure and Risk Assessment of Hg
• Mercury Emissions: Monitoring and Analysis
• Mercury in Artisanal Gold Mining
• Mercury in Contaminated Sites
• Mercury in Freshwater Ecosystems
• Mercury in Marine Ecosystems
• Mercury in Polar Ecosystems
• Mercury in the Terrestrial Ecosystems
• Mercury Regulatory and Policy Matters
• Mercury Treatment / Abatement
• Predicting the Impacts of Climate Change on Hg Cycling
• Progress in understanding Hg and human health impacts
• Risk Assessment of Hg exposure to wildlife, birds and fish
• The impacts of climate change on global Hg cycling

Special Sessions
• Artisanal and Small- Scale Gold Mining – challenges and solutions
• Assessing the effectiveness of the Minamata Convention on Mercury under climate uncertainties
• Climate-Driven Perturbations of Arctic Mercury Cycling – a Special Session Coupled to the 2021 AMAP Mercury Assessment
• Global mercury concentrations in biota: their use as a basis for a global monitoring framework
• Impacts of Climate Change on Global Mercury Cycling
• Mercury in the Southern Hemisphere
• Meta-omic and geochemical approaches to linking microbial activity to biogeochemical mercury cycling
• Metrological Traceability for mercury analysis and speciation
• National Action Plans to reduce mercury use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining: translating data into policy responses
• New developments in understanding reactive mercury concentrations and chemistry
• planetGOLD: A Pathway to Reducing Global Mercury Pollution from Artisanal and Small- Scale Gold Mining
• Selenium-mercury interactions in aquatic food webs: The state of the science and future research directions

ICMGP 2022 – why attend?
Explaining the unique importance of the ICMGP conference, Susan Keane from the Natural Resources Defense Council, who is chairing one of the special sessions on artisanal mining says: “The great thing about these events is that they are home-grown; created and run by the mercury community. So they represent a fantastic opportunity to learn and share information for anyone with an interest in mercury science and the environmental and health impacts.”

As a more convenient and lower cost virtual event, this year’s conference is set to become the largest in its history, providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information on the status of mercury in the environment; its effects on human health and ecosystems; on the ways in which it can be measured, and how emission levels can be reduced.

Summarising, Lynwill Martin says: “Delegates will see from the conference program that we have attempted to address all of the most important issues relating to the understanding, measurement and reduction of mercury emissions. However, I would urge delegates to take advantage of the benefits that a virtual conference provides. Please therefore register as soon as possible and take time to contact other delegates and speakers in advance of the event.

“This really is a fantastic opportunity to engage with all sections of the mercury community, but you don’t have to wait until 25th July; register now here and start building your own network prior to the event.”

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IET 33.6 Nov/Dec 2023

December 2023

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