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A Toxics-Free Future

The Economic Cost of Mercury Pollution & Lost Income Potential

Mercury pollution threatens the potential of future generations.We know mercury is a threat to human health and causes brain damage, but what are the economic burdens of mercury exposure?

A recent study in the Journal of Environmental Management is the first peer-reviewed study to measure the economic burden of mercury pollution on lost productivity in developing and transition countries. Dr. Leonardo Trasande, an associate professor at the New York University School of Medicine, is the lead author, noting IPEN Sr. Science and Technical Advisor, Dr. Joseph DiGangi, and others, among the co-authors.

The study evaluated mercury concentrations in hair samples from 236 participants from 17 sites in 15 countries, and estimated an annual loss of $77 - $130 million USD to these specific communities. All study participants, except those living on the Cook Islands, lived near mercury sources named in the Minamata Convention, an international treaty that aims to curb and eliminate mercury pollution to protect human health and the environment. (

Researchers stress their findings describe only the tip of the iceberg of economic burdens of mercury. The study only begins to reveal the economic costs of mercury pollution and harm to a developing brain. It underscores the need for robust national and global action to eliminate mercury from the economy and promote enforcement of the Minamata Convention.

Press Release: Mercury Pollution Costs Millions in Lost Earning Potential


Quick View of Mercury Study Data Around the World

Mercury pollution costs millions to communities around the globe. Click the map to view an overlay of the study data.

The following data summarizes the results of the study and the financial impacts in the countries included. Click the map above to see an overlay of this data on the map.

Community: Vlora Bay
Mercury Source: Contaminated site - former chlor-alkali plant
Cost to Community: $16,500 - $191,000

Community: Dhaka
Mercury Source: Mixed - Landfills, cement kilns
Cost to Community: $102,000 - $1,920,000

Community: Minsk
Mercury Source: Mixed - Incineration, cement kilns, metal smeting
Cost to Community: $3,310,000 - $11,000,000

Community: Douala
Mercury Source: Mixed - cement kiln, waste incinterator, poluturethane production, metal recycling, various dumpsites
Cost to Community: $54,700,000 - $71,800,000

Cook Islands
Community: Ngatangiia village - Raratonga
Mercury Source: Global deposition
Cost to Community: $699,000 - $1,420,000

Community: Ganjam Province, Orissa
Mercury Source: Chlor-alkali plant
Cost to Community: $297,000 - $5,880,000

Community: Sekotong & Poboya
Mercury Source: Artisinal small-scale gold mining
Cost to Community: $961,000 - $1,630,000

Community: Masura - Mogori District
Mercury Source: Artisinal small-scale gold mining
Cost to Community: $1,710,109 - $3,350,000

Community: Coatzacoalcos - Minatitlan area
Mercury Source: Mixed - incineration, oil & gas refinery, chlor-alkali plant
Cost to Community: $5,150,072 - $15,767,063

Community: Pokhara
Mercury Source: Mixed - Wastes
Cost to Community: $37,600 - $572,000

Community: Volgograd
Mercury Source: Chlor-alkali plant
Cost to Community: $6,270,000 - $9,790,000

Sri Lanka
Community: Negombo Lagoon area
Mercury Source: Mixed - wastes
Cost to Community: $600,000 - $1,770,000

Community: Matundasi & Makongolosi
Mercury Source: Artisinal small-scale gold mining
Cost to Community: $3,200,000 - $4,440,000

Community: Tha Tum
Mercury Source: Coal-fired power plant
Cost to Community: $278,000 - $480,000

Community: San Jose Province
Mercury Source: Chlor-alkali plant
Cost to Community: $19,000 - $76,700