Integrating Knowledge to Inform Mercury Policy


The ‘Integrating Knowledge to Inform Mercury Policy’ (IKIMP) knowledge exchange initiative has been set up to ensure the UK scientific and technical knowledge base is used to inform and guide public policy relating to mercury. The 3 year Initiative, which started in October 2008, has been funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council.

What is IKIMP and what will it do?

Knowledge exchange will be achieved by stimulating interaction between relevant sectors of industry, government and academia by means of:

Work packages

What Is IKIMP?

A UK Natural Environment Research Council Knowledge Exchange Initiative led by the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, and the Environmental Knowledge Transfer Network.

Of all the potentially toxic trace elements, mercury is arguably associated with the most widespread and sustained public health concern. Scientific understanding of the behaviour of mercury in the environment needs to be integrated and applied in order to ensure public policy is cost effective and achieves the overarching aim of protecting human health. With an atmospheric lifetime of ~1 year, the geographical source of mercury pollution has little bearing on where the effects will be felt. Consequently, mercury pollution is of global concern.

The potential impact this trans-boundary pollutant has is of key scientific and political importance. The science – policy relationship for mercury in the environment has received renewed interest in recent years with the European Commission and the UNEP Ad hoc Open-Ended Working Group (AHOEWG) investigating voluntary measures and new legal instruments with which to remove this element from consumer products, and to reduce emissions from industrial processes. The UK Government is active in European and international discussions regarding the management of mercury, with the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) having recently held the Chair of the UNEP AHOEWG. As a consequence, the UK Government through Defra is looking to the UK scientific community, as well as industry, to:

IKIMP is addressing four key policy questions, bringing together key scientific experts, industrial players and policymakers to identify and contextualize scientific knowledge:

  1. Crustal emissions – The impact of degassing on the global mercury budget.
  2. Climate change – UK policy and the consequences of climate change on mercury in the UK environment.
  3. Energy policy – Characterisation of global anthropogenic activities in the energy sector to provide insight into the potential impact of these activities on mercury in the UK environment.
    To address these topics, the IKIMP initiative will be organising a series of cross-sectoral workshops, briefings and publications directed at those responsible for public policy development. The IKIMP knowledge exchange initiative intends to place the UK at the forefront of global mercury science and technology relating to mercury risk reduction, and policy development.



Recent News & Events

World Service broadcast on mercury

Mercury is the bad-boy of the periodic table, often called ‘quicksilver’, it is both mesmerising and toxic as Professor Andrea Sella of University College London vividly explains. In […]

Global treaty on mercury pollution gets boost from United States

The United States has strengthened the international effort to bring down emissions and releases of a notorious heavy metal after simultaneously signing and ratifying the Minamata Convention on […]

The Minamata Convention on Mercury

More than 90 countries signed a treaty to limit mercury use and pollution at a United Nations conference in Kumamoto, Japan, on 10 October. The Minamata Convention on Mercury […]

Contact Information

Principal Investigator

Prof David Pyle


Dr Murray Gardner

Steering Committee

Dr John Holmes, Dr Mel Witt,
Dr Tamsin Mather,
Dr Mike Roberts (Defra),
Dr Lesley Sloss (IEA CCC),
Dr Warren Corns (PS Analytical)

Contact Details

Tel: +44 (0) 1865 272 000
Fax: +44 (0) 1865 272 072

Safe Storage & Disposal of Mercury: workshop presentations

A workshop held at St Anne’s College, University of Oxford on 13 & 14 October 2009 considered the scientific and engineering issues associated with ensuring the safe storage and disposal of redundant mercury. Presentations from the workshop are now available.

The safe management of mercury no longer needed for products and processes is increasingly demanding the attention of policy makers, industry and independent experts. The views expressed at the workshop will help to inform the development of the UK’s position in impending discussions at a European and UN level.

The links below give open access to pdf files of the presentations given at the workshop. Online publishing of presentations is made possible by kind consent from the authors. IKIMP requests that by downloading a file you acknowledge the original ownership of the information contained in the presentation.

Final programme for workshop & workshop participants

Opening slides – Dr Bruce Howard

Mr Stephen Kane (Defra, UK) & Dr Mike Roberts (Defra, UK)
Policy context and regulatory framework for mercury storage and disposal.

Dr. Thomas Brasser (GRS mbH, Germany) &
Mr. Alexander Baart (K+S Entsorgung GmbH, Germany)
Underground storage and disposal in a salt formation based on elemental mercury.
Brasser presentation
Baart presentation

Mr. Lars Olof Höglund (Kemakta Konsult AB, Sweden)
Underground storage and disposal in hard rock based on a chemically-stable mercury solid

Ms. Sonja Bauer (BiPRO GmbH, Germany)
Overview of solidification processes

Ms. Miriam Ortheil (DELA, GmbH Germany)
Stabilisation of mercury for final disposal by formation of mercury sulphide

Dr Stephen Pawel (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US) &
Mr Adam Carroll (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US)
Design of mercury storage containers.
Pawel presentation
Carroll presentation

Breakout groups to discuss operational phase of underground repository

Professor Alan Hooper (Independent Consultant, UK)
Evaluating the Post-closure Safety of Geological Disposal of Long-lived Radioactive Wastes
Note: the majority of the slides in Professor Hooper’s presentation are reproduced by kind permission of the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. Applications for permission to use this information commercially, including copying or re-publication, should be made to the NDA Information Manager, see

Mr. Steve Williams (NDA, UK)
Groundwater Chemotoxic Screening for Radioactive Waste Disposal

Mr. Lars Olof Höglund (Kemakta Konsult AB, Sweden)
Assessing the behaviour and fate of mercury should it be released from a disposal facility

Breakout groups to discuss post-closure phase of underground repository

Mr. Bill Hermes (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US)
Containerized elemental mercury – above ground storage considerations.

Information and documents provided to participants:

Briefing note

Bibliography of relevant publications

List of previous events related to the topic

Venue information

« European Commission: Forest fires increase mercury emissions
Older Dental Fillings Contain Form of Mercury Unlikely to Be Toxic, Study Finds »