The Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea hosted an informative side event on mercury.
Italy is the lead partner in a major collaborative research project on mercury alongside Canada, Japan, South Africa, the USA and UNEP.
Dr Nicola Pirrone of the CNR Institute for Atmospheric Pollution in Rome presented the preliminary results of the first four years of the research partnership which is examining the natural and anthropogenic sources of mercury and major issues related to the interaction of mercury with land and marine ecosystems.
Seventy scientists from more than 12 countries have so far contributed to the project, which is due to culminate with a final report at the end of 2010, contributing to the work of the Task Force on Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollution (TF HTAP).
Dr Pirrone told delegates that one important objective was to achieve international cooperation between organizations with mercury-related programmes – such as the World Health Organization and Global Earth Observation System of Systems – to harmonize mercury monitoring techniques and models so that outcomes can be compared.
Acknowledging the topic involved a complexity of issues and solutions, Dr Pirrone thanked the project partners but said further research was required to fill the gaps in knowledge. A meeting to be held in St Petersburg in March 2009 will discuss next steps for the project including the outcomes of GC-25/GMEF.