URBAN METABOLISM OF MERCURY TURNOVER, EMISSIONS AND STOCK IN STOCKHOLM 1795–1995

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Abstract

This article accounts for the use of mercury (Hg) in different activities in Stockholm during the time period 1795–1995. Turnover of Hg is estimated to 122–440 tons, amounts recycled: 27–50 tons and total emissions of Hg are estimated to 90–390 tons. The stock was approximately 4.4–8.1 tons in 1995. 19th century handicraft occupations and medical treatment emitted a large part of the Hg, emission sources that hitherto have been unknown in Sweden. Emissions peaked around 1960, thereafter the emissions plummeted, being the result of decreased use of Hg for dental fillings and in products such as batteries, while recycling efforts had a limited effect on reducing total emissions. Based on this finding, the current focus on collection of Hg containing products for long term storage in bedrock is questioned. If the aim is to reduce the potential for environmental hazards because of Hg it might be better to focus more attention on the already emitted amounts since these are nearly 30 times greater than the amount of Hg in stock.

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