Gold and amalgams: Environmental pollution and health effects.
2011 (English)Book (Refereed)
Physical properties of metallic mercury (Hg) have made it a widely used element in a multitude of applications. Its capacity to amalgamate most other metals has resulted in large amounts of Hg used and lost in gold mining, chemical industry, and dentistry. With time, hazards related to Hg use became more evident, manifested by several severe human and wildlife Hg intoxication epidemics. This demonstrated that stopping the use of Hg is the only practical way to avoid Hg pollution from intentional use of Hg. Most intentional uses of Hg can be readily substituted by Hg-free products and processes, demonstrated by successful implementation of environmental policy in the Nordic countries.
Hg production has been recorded for the last five centuries. More than half has been mined in Europe and one quarter in the Americas. Nearly half of the historical consumption has been preindustrial, notably for silver and gold mining by amalgamation. The chlor–alkali industry is still one of the globally dominating Hg consumers, followed by dental amalgam in several industrialized countries. Their large stocks of Hg to be decommissioned need political guidance to avoid transfer of Hg and related risks to other countries, a potential transfer to small-scale miners favored by low Hg prices. Therefore, sound management of Hg waste is urgently needed on the global agenda.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Burlington:: Elsevier. , 2011. , pp. 1015–1026 p.
, In: Nriagu, J.O. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Environmental Health, volume 2, pp. 1015–1026, 2
Amalgamation; Artisanal mining; Bioindicators; Chlor–alkali industry; Dental amalgam; Environmental policy; Global mercury consumption; Gold; Intoxication; Mercury; Small-scale mining; Waste handling.
Research subject Earth Science with specialization in Environmental Analysis
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-148853ISBN: 9780444522733OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-148853DiVA: diva2:403088