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Unformatted text preview: China Needs to Control Mercury Emissions from Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Incineration H E F A C H E N G * , † , ‡ Y U A N A N H U § State Key Laboratory of Organic Geochemistry, Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510640, China, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94025, United States, and Education Program for Gifted Youth, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94025, United States Because of its toxic, persistent, and bioaccumulative nature, mercury is a significant public health and environmental problem. Elemental mercury is generally the predominant form of mercury ( ∼ 95%) in the atmosphere, with natural (e.g., volcanoes and weathering of rocks) and anthropogenic sources (e.g., coal combustion and metal smelting) contrib- uting approximately equally to the total atmospheric budget of vapor-phase mercury ( 1 ). Because elemental mercury has a long atmospheric residence time (0.5- 2 years) ( 2 ), it is a problem with global reach. Governments from around the world have begun negotiating a global legally binding instrument on mercury since June 2010, with the goal of completing the negotiations by 2013. China has the largest anthropogenic mercury emissions ( ∼ 700 tonnes/year) and is responsible for approximately a quarter of the global emissions ( 3 ). The limited data available indicate mercury pollution occurs in various environmental media (soils, air, surface water, and plants) in China, and the major mercury exposure pathways are consumption of contaminated fish for residents living in coastal cities and inhalation in areas with severe atmospheric mercury pol- lution ( 4 ). It is imperative for China to make vigorous efforts in reducing mercury emissions to protect the health of its citizens, to prepare for compliance with the upcoming international treaty, and to support global efforts of mercury reduction. Among the mercury source categories, emissions from incineration of municipal solid waste (MSW) experienced the fastest growth, from 0.6 tonne in 1995 to 10.4 tonnes in 2003 ( 3 ), due to the rapid expansion of MSW incineration industry in China ( 5 ). Incineration is increasingly replacing landfilling as the preferred MSW management option in...
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This note was uploaded on 06/21/2011 for the course CIVIL 1010 taught by Professor Unknown during the Spring '10 term at HKU.
- Spring '10