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Minamata Convention on Mercury: Global Mercury Sampling
Minamata Convention on Mercury: Global Mercury Sampling

Join the Global Effort to Track Mercury in Our Environment

Mercury is found in the food we eat, the products we use, and the places we live. Tracking mercury levels in people, fish and wildlife, and ecosystems is key to understanding the extent and magnitude of mercury in the global environment. Help us by joining the effort.

Human Exposure to Mercury

Human Exposure to Mercury

Across the landscape, mercury pollution originates from many sources, such as artisanal small-scale gold mining and coal-fired power plants, and ultimately contaminates our seafood. This contamination puts many communities at high risk of exposure to mercury:

  • Where seafood with elevated Hg levels are a major food item: Small Island Developing States and North American Inuit communities;
  • Where artisanal small-scale gold mining is practiced: the Amazon River Basin, Northern South Africa, Central and West Africa, and the Indo-Pacific region; and
  • Near heavy industrial activities: Southern Asia (e.g., coal-fired power plants), and Eastern Europe (e.g., chlor-alkali facilities). 


Next Steps
Join us in monitoring mercury exposure to people in your community:

1) What do you provide to us? Country Ministries and NGOs collect human hair samples and participant questionnaires regarding potential routes of mercury exposure.

2) What does BRI do? Once samples are shipped to BRI, we prepare and analyze the samples, and provide interpretation

3) How does this help you? Mercury data produced will provide a clearer understanding of exposure to people who live in your country and region.

Connecting action to policy: Monitoring human exposure helps meet the objectives of Articles 16 & 19 of the Minamata Convention.

To learn more, download our brochure: Local, Regional and Global Biomonitoring: People 

Mercury Contamination in Seafood

Mercury Contamination in Seafood

Mercury is present in the world’s oceans and freshwater systems, where over 170 million tonnes of wild caught fish are harvested each year (FAO 2018). Some seafood items may contain mercury concentrations that exceed safe levels for human consumption, especially for vulnerable populations: children; pregnant women; and communities that rely on seafood.

Next Steps
Join us in monitoring mercury contamination in seafood:

1) What do you provide to us? Country Ministries and NGOs work with BRI biologists to design studies and collect biotic samples.

2) What does BRI do? Once biotic samples are safely shipped to BRI, we prepare and analyze them, and provide interpretation.

3) How does this help you? Mercury data from biota will provide a clearer understanding of human and ecological health.

Connecting action to policy: Biomonitoring helps meet the objectives of Article 19 of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

To learn more, download our brochure: Local, Regional and Global Biomonitoring: Seafood 

Mercury in Skin Lightening Products

Mercury in Skin Lightening Products

Elemental mercury is an active ingredient in some skin lightening cosmetic products used around the world, posing a risk to human health and the environment. Kidney dammage is the main health risk (WHO), in addition to skin irritations, allergic reactions, and neurotoxicity. Additionally, mercury in these products eventually ends up in wastewater, entering the environment and ultimately the food web. 

The Minamata Convention requires that all cosmetic products contain less than 1 part per million of mercury by the end of 2020. In comparison, the concentration of mercury in some skin creams tested by BRI has been as high as 19,000 parts per million. 

Next Steps
Join us in monitoring mercury in skin lightening products:

1) What do you provide to us? Country ministries and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) collect samples of cosmetic and skincare products that may contain mercury.

2) What does BRI do? We analyze products for mercury content (our goal is to provide customs agents with the means to efficiently screen imported products for the presence of mercury.)

3) How does this help you? Provides country-specific mercury data on cosmetic products that may affect your health.

Connecting action to policy: Cosmetics sampling helps meet the objectives of Article 4 of the Minamata Convention.

To learn more, download our brochure: Phasing Out Mercury-added Products: Skin Lightening Products and Other Cosmetics 

Mapping Mercury Hotspots

Mapping Mercury Hotspots

Biological mercury hotspots are areas with high concentrations of methylmercury (MeHg) in biota and represent the places that will require the most attention by countries and global monitoring programs.

Elemental mercury is converted to a more toxic organic form through the process of methylation, which occurs primarily in wet areas such as estuaries, mangroves, and other wetland habitats. Variations in MeHg concentrations may occur in the food web depending on the sensitivity of the ecosystem to mercury input.

Mapping mercury hotspots helps identify critical areas where mercury affects important human food sources or threatened and endangered wildlife species.

Next Steps
Hotspot mapping helps us identify and track areas of concern. If you are interested in joining the global mercury hotspot mapping effort, please consider the following steps:

1) Contact BRI. We will provide guidance and protocols on all aspects of the process.

2) Develop partnerships among and within your country’s Ministries and local nongovernmental organizations.

3) Determine your goals and objectives, which BRI can then help to connect to the Minamata Convention.

4) Identify funding sources to cover expenses (e.g., contaminated site identification, mapping efforts, reports).

5) BRI will create an interpretive map of biological mercury hotspot gradients.

6) Submit a report to your country Ministry.

Connecting action to policy: Hotspot mapping helps meet the objectives of Articles 12, 16, 18, and 19 of the Minamata Convention.

To learn more, download our brochure: Global Mercury Hotspot Mapping

 
Photo Credits: Header image © shutterstock-digantarajkhowa
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