SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
 
  12 May 2011
Volume 12 Issue 5
 

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SETAC Europe Milan 2011

SETAC Establishes New Global Mercury Partnership with United Nations Environmental Program

Michael Bank (Harvard University) and Davide Vignati (Italian Water Research Institute)

SETAC’s decision last December to join the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) Global Mercury Partnership has opened exciting new opportunities for our members. Our first partnership meeting was a tremendous success. This well-attended meeting was held at the annual SETAC North America meeting in November 2010 in Portland, Oregon. Next, we look forward to meeting with SETAC members from Europe and beyond at the upcoming SETAC Europe 21st Annual Meeting from 15–19 May 2011 in Milan, Italy. The SETAC-UNEP meeting in Milan is scheduled for 18:00-19:00 on Monday, 16 May in Room–Blue 1.

Widespread mercury deposition and contamination is well documented and continues to be a public-health concern for certain sectors of the global human population in both developed and developing countries. In early 2013, the UNEP’s internationally binding treaty on the control of mercury will be signed. Documentation of the pervasiveness of this contaminant is a first step toward understanding the potential environmental health and ecological implications of mercury pollution and will be critical to the success of the UNEP program. Identifying broad scale distribution patterns of mercury bioaccumulation and understanding its most subtle, long-term effects at the higher levels of biological organization can convey to regulators that certain ecosystems may be degraded and that, despite globally low Hg levels in abiotic matrices, policies and regulations are likely required to reduce mercury emissions, and ultimately, improve air and water quality. A more synthesized, holistic perspective on the mechanisms related to aquatic and terrestrial biogeochemistry linkages of fate, transport, and bioavailability of mercury in aquatic ecosystems will result from long term, multi-ecosystem monitoring programs coupled with process-oriented research questions.

Since its inception in January 2011, the partnership has identified eight priority areas in which SETAC is particularly looking to promote scientific advances:

  • Mercury isotope chemistry and source apportionment models
  • Human and animal toxicology and exposure
  • Climate change, global modeling and mercury bioavailability
  • Mercury emissions from cement factories
  • Risk communication
  • Mercury emissions from coal-fired plants
  • Environmental risk assessment protocols for mercury
  • Identification and summary of mercury contaminated sites

We have also scheduled presentations, meetings, and proposed publications including:

  • SETAC Europe 21st Annual Meeting, May 15–19, Milan, Italy
  • Mercury 2011 ICMGP Conference, July 24–29, Halifax, Canada
  • SETAC North America 32nd Annual Meeting, November 13–17, Boston, MA, USA
  • Synthesis papers (6) and editorial for a special section of Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry

We look forward to your participation and hope you can provide us with guidance on how to make this partnership truly flourish. Please send us information on what we can do to assist you and feel free to contact us with any ideas, comments, questions and suggestions or simply to learn more about how to get involved with this exciting new SETAC-UNEP initiative. Please send an email to one of us to be included on the SETAC-UNEP Global Mercury Partnership email distribution list to receive detailed updates.
Thank you, very much, and we look forward to seeing you in Milan!

Authors' contact information: mbank@hsph.harvard.edu, vignati@irsa.cnr.it

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