Mercury is one of the most dangerous environmental toxins known to man and Denmark is working at both EU and international level to impose restrictions that are as comprehensive as possible, including prohibitions on use and export in order to minimise emissions on a global basis.
What is mercury?
Mercury (Hg) is the only pure metal that is liquid at room temperature. In vapour form can spread over thousands of kilometres from the discharge source.
How mercury impacts on the environment and humans
Mercury can cause severe damage to both health and the environment. Perhaps the most serious damage is that caused to the nervous system of humans during the foetal period and the consequent risk of impaired learning and development in children.
How mercury ends up in humans and the environment
Mercury is consumed by humans from many different sources. The most serious source is fish and other food products associated with the aquatic environment.
Sources of mercury contamination
A distinction is drawn between the intentional and unintentional consumption of mercury. The unintentional "consumption" of mercury consists of mercury as an associated substance in coal and metal production, whilst intentional consumption comprises products or processes where mercury is actively added.
For more than ten years, Denmark has been pushing hard to initiate global (United Nations) negotiations concerning a mercury convention.
Legislation on mercury
Denmark has national legislation on Mercury. Furthermore Mercury is covered by a variety of legislation at EU level.
The vast majority of consumer products in Denmark do not contain mercury. However, there are some products where the use of mercury is essential for the function.
There is a wealth of international literature and websites on mercury. A small selection of these is presented here.