Dworak, S., & Rechberger, H. (2021). Mercury throughput of the Austrian manufacturing industry – Discussion of data and data gaps. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 166, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2020.105344
Resources, Conservation and Recycling
Mercury (Hg) in the anthroposphere and its emission into the environment have been increasingly attracting attention. It is agreed upon that a substantial share of Hg is caused by anthropogenic activities. Comprehensive insight into Hg flows is crucial to minimizing exposure risk to humans and the environment. This study is the first to put together a detailed, multiannual (2005 to 2016) Hg balance for the whole manufacturing industry of an industrialized country, namely Austria. It investigates data availability, quality, and the lack thereof by following a systematic approach. Assessed data is combined in a material flow analysis model to estimate and discuss the relevant Hg flows through inputs (raw materials) and outputs (products, wastes, emissions) of the individual industry sectors. Uncertainty ranges are estimated and processed according to error propagation. Hg concentrations for most goods are available, but often of low quality (incomplete, partly non-representative). Data for quantities of goods are mostly available, especially for primary raw materials and production numbers. Nevertheless, publicly available data differs strongly from sector to sector and within sectors. Over the period 2005 to 2016 the Hg throughput varied from 3.4 t/yr ±25% to 4 t/yr ±25%. Primary raw materials and fuels accounted for 70% to 75% of the Hg import, secondary ones for 25% to 30%. Hg export via products was estimated at 35% to 40%, via emissions to air at 20% to 25% and via waste at 40% to 45%.