EPA/600/R-02/104 December 2002
Use and Release of Mercury in the United States
Barry R. Leopold Science Applications International Corporation Reston, Virginia 20190
Contract Nos. 68-C-0027 and 68-C7-0011
Kenneth Stone Sustainable Technology Division National Risk Management Research Laboratory Cincinnati, Ohio 45268
National Risk Management Research Laboratory Office of Research and Development U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Cincinnati, Ohio 45268
Although mercury use is decreasing in the United States, mercury continues to pose a serious risk to human health and the environment. This report presents the results of a two-year effort sponsored by EPA’s Office of Research and Development to quantify and map the flows of mercury throughout the U.S. economy and released into the environment. Data contained in the report are intended to help prioritize research and development efforts.
Using a materials flow analysis (MFA), this report quantifies cradle-to-grave mercury use, reuse, release and disposal associated with products and processes that use mercury. Among the 100 data sources examined were industry estimates, government statistics, literature sources, and USEPA data such as the Toxics Release Inventory and emission factors. Specific industries and sectors within the following major divisions were evaluated: mercury supply, mercury use in manufacturing processes, incidental mercury use associated with coal combustion, incidental mercury use associated with non-coal sources, and other sources of mercury resulting from previous use. For each sector, mercury use is described, mercury-containing raw materials and products catalogued, and reported mercury releases into media (air, water, and solid waste) quantified. For sectors in which data are available concerning mercury speciation and geographic distributions, this information is presented.