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Mercury emission from the aluminium industry: a review


MOJ Ecology & Environmental Sciences
KO Ansah Amano,1 AG Ntiri-Asiedu2

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Abstract

There has been a rising global concern of mercury because of its persistent nature, long-range transport and toxicity. Mercury possesses serious health effects on living organisms and the environment. Mercury, mostly in inorganic form, is present in almost all categories of rocks. It may be released through natural occurrences and/or anthropogenic activities such as aluminium production. Stable organic mercury compounds, for example methyl mercury (CH3Hg), are formed by the attachment of mercury to one or two carbon atoms. Depending on the source of bauxite, a substantial amount of elemental mercury is released by aluminium industries. Emitted elemental mercury contributes to increasing global atmospheric reserve of mercury hence decreasing mercury emissions plays a key role in lowering the contribution of anthropogenic activities to the global atmospheric mercury budget. In general, all three forms of mercury (elemental, inorganic and organic mercury) have the potential of causing adverse health effects at sufficiently high doses. Mercury emissions are readily absorbed through the alveoli membranes and gastrointestinal tract affecting other systems. Fetuses and individuals often exposed to mercury (chronic exposure) are two classes of people who are more susceptible to harm caused by mercury. This paper discusses mercury metal and oxide emission from the Aluminium industry.

Keywords

Aluminium, Anthropogenic activities, Bauxite, Bioaccumulation, Metal mercury

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