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Development of cost-effective methods for minimizing risk from heavy metal pollution in industrial cities: a case study of mercury pollution in pavlodar

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Cost-effective management of heavy metal pollution

Heavy metal pollution plagues many parts of Eastern Europe and central Asia where regulation of heavy industry has been relatively lax. An INCO project is bringing hope to the region in the form of a methodology for cost-effective management of the risk associated with this contamination.

Climate Change and Environment

Mercury is a highly toxic heavy metal emitted from industrial sources that can seriously damage the human central nervous system. It can also negatively affect ecosystems, accumulating in the food chain. The International Scientific Cooperation (INCO) Programme aims to involve members of the former Soviet Union known as New Independent States (NIS) in European R&D. Experts in mercury pollution with the University of Southampton coordinated the TOXICMANAGEMENT project to foster knowledge transfer to several NIS whose cities are facing heavy metal contamination from local industry. A case study in Pavlodar, Kazakhstan was used to develop a methodology to assess the risks associated with mercury pollution. Impacts on both human health and the environment were taken into account. The inclusion of financial parameters as well as measurement data enables the identification of the most cost-effective approach to site remediation and management of future risk. Involving Kazakhstan's Academy of Sciences as well as a state university in the TOXICMANAGEMENT consortium helped speed the dissemination of the project findings. The new methodology has been adopted by Kazakhstan's government and efforts are underway to promote it to the regional government in nearby Omsk, Russia in the hopes of improving management of heavy metal pollution in the region.

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