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Reviews on Environmental Health

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Volume 31, Issue 1 (Mar 2016)


Connecting mercury science to policy: from sources to seafood

Celia Y. Chen
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hanover NH, 03755, USA
  • Email:
/ Charles T. Driscoll
  • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Syracuse University, Syracuse NY, 13244, USA
/ Kathleen F. Lambert
  • Harvard Forest, Harvard University, Petersham, MA 01366, USA
/ Robert P. Mason
  • Department of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut, 1080 Shennecossett Road, Groton, CT 06340, USA
/ Elsie M. Sunderland
  • Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University, 401 Park Drive, Boston, MA 02215, USA
Published Online: 2016-01-28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/reveh-2015-0044


Mercury (Hg) is a global contaminant whose presence in the biosphere has been increased by human activity, particularly coal burning/energy production, mining, especially artisanal scale gold mining, and other industrial activities. Mercury input to the surface ocean has doubled over the past century leading governments and organizations to take actions to protect humans from the harmful effects of this toxic element. Recently, the UN Environmental Program led 128 countries to negotiate and sign a legally binding agreement, the 2013 Minimata Convention, to control Hg emissions and releases to land and water globally. In an effort to communicate science to this emerging international policy, the Dartmouth Superfund Research Program formed the Coastal and Marine Mercury Ecosystem Research Collaborative (C-MERC) in 2010 that brought together more than 70 scientists and policy experts to analyze and synthesize the science on Hg pollution in the marine environment from Hg sources to MeHg in seafood. The synthesis of the science revealed that the sources and inputs of Hg and their pathways to human exposure are largely determined by ecosystem spatial scales and that these spatial scales determine the organizational level of policies. The paper summarizes the four major findings of the report.

Keywords: mercury policy; mercury pollution; minimata treaty; seafood contamination


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About the article

Corresponding author: Celia Y. Chen, Department of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hanover NH, 03755, USA, E-mail:

Received: 2015-10-13

Accepted: 2015-11-02

Published Online: 2016-01-28

Published in Print: 2016-03-01

Citation Information: Reviews on Environmental Health, ISSN (Online) 2191-0308, ISSN (Print) 0048-7554, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/reveh-2015-0044. Export Citation

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