Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 5951-5964, 2010
© Author(s) 2010. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
02 Jul 2010
Global mercury emissions to the atmosphere from anthropogenic and natural sources
N. Pirrone1, S. Cinnirella1, X. Feng2, R. B. Finkelman3, H. R. Friedli4, J. Leaner5, R. Mason6, A. B. Mukherjee7, G. B. Stracher8, D. G. Streets9, and K. Telmer10
1CNR-Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research - Division of Rende, Rende, Italy
2State Key Laboratory of Environmental Geochemistry, Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guiyang, China
3University of Texas, Dallas, USA
4National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, USA
5CSIR, Stellenbosch, South Africa
6Department of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut, Hartford, USA
7Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
8Division of Science and Mathematics, East Georgia College, Swainsboro, Georgia
9Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, USA
10School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada

Abstract. This paper provides an up-to-date assessment of global mercury emissions from anthropogenic and natural sources. On an annual basis, natural sources account for 5207 Mg of mercury released to the global atmosphere, including the contribution from re-emission processes, which are emissions of previously deposited mercury originating from anthropogenic and natural sources, and primary emissions from natural reservoirs. Anthropogenic sources, which include a large number of industrial point sources, are estimated to account for 2320 Mg of mercury emitted annually. The major contributions are from fossil-fuel fired power plants (810 Mg yr−1), artisanal small scale gold mining (400 Mg yr−1), non-ferrous metals manufacturing (310 Mg yr−1), cement production (236 Mg yr−1), waste disposal (187 Mg yr−1) and caustic soda production (163 Mg yr−1). Therefore, our current estimate of global mercury emissions suggests that the overall contribution from natural sources (primary emissions + re-emissions) and anthropogenic sources is nearly 7527 Mg per year, the uncertainty associated with these estimates are related to the typology of emission sources and source regions.

Citation: Pirrone, N., Cinnirella, S., Feng, X., Finkelman, R. B., Friedli, H. R., Leaner, J., Mason, R., Mukherjee, A. B., Stracher, G. B., Streets, D. G., and Telmer, K.: Global mercury emissions to the atmosphere from anthropogenic and natural sources, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 5951-5964, doi:10.5194/acp-10-5951-2010, 2010.
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