Mercury emissions from industrial sources in India and its effects in the environment

Arun B. Mukherjee, Prosun Bhattacharya, Atanu Sarkar, Ron Zevenhoven

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


This study describes the atmospheric mercury (Hg) emissions from industrial sources in India for the years 2000 to 2004. In India emission inventories of Hg and other trace elements from anthropogenic sources have been largely neglected, although the GDP (Gross Domestic Products growth) has touched 9.6% at the beginning of the 21st century. In coal production India is the third largest in the world, whereas Indian cement and brick production have reached second place in the world. With increased industrial development, acute pollution problems have been identified in the subcontinent. There is no consistent earlier information for Hg emissions to the environment for any sectors of industry. This paper may be the first road map in which we have tried to find out the total emission of Hg from a wide range of sources, e.g. from coal combustion to clinical thermometers broken during production or packing. There is a lack of basic data and in an attempt to correct this, emission factors suitable for Asian countries have been selected to complete this study. Before this document, there were some efforts in Europe to develop emission inventories for Hg from coal combustion or chlor-alkali plants for India. In this study it was found that total atmospheric emission from industrial sources has decreased from 321 Mg in 2000 to 253 Mg in 2004 due to a switch for the membrane cell process in the chlor-alkali industry. In 2004 the largest part of the Hg emissions stemmed from coal combustion in thermal power plants. Hg-cell technology had been used earlier in chlorine and sodium hydroxide production, as a result of which Hg concentration in terrestrial and aquatic species are nowadays quite high in coastal areas. India can thus be referred to as a mercury hot spot. We have received limited information on emissions of Hg from industrial sources in India. Estimates are based on emission factors and the values taken from the literature. Against a background of limited data and information, this paper gives an overview of Hg emissions in India and of the recent steps undertaken by authorities to curb the emissions of Hg and its subsequent trans-boundary movement in the global environment.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMercury Fate and Transport in the Global Atmosphere
Subtitle of host publicationEmissions, Measurements and Models
PublisherSpringer US
Number of pages32
ISBN (Print)9780387939575
Publication statusPublished - 2009
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book


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