Session Title :

The state of mercury science and how it informs policy - the Canadian experience

Synopsis :

Presentations will showcase two government initiated science assessments that have recently been conducted which synthesize all Canadian mercury-related research. These documents include highlights of work undertaken over the past few decades and are punctuated with a science summary for policy makers. This session will outline what science has been used to inform domestic and international policies and regulations for Canada.

Description :

Effectively communicating the need for regulatory action on mercury in Canada and abroad requires a clear vision of the state of science. Canadian science has been at the forefront of environmental and human health mercury research and monitoring. The Canadian Mercury Science Assessment and the Canadian Arctic Contaminants Assessment Report on Mercury are two recently developed reports that synthesise all mercury-related research across Canada over the past decades and offer a summary of the science for policy makers. These reports reflect the synthesis of research undertaken by groups in Canadian universities, government and industry and provide a cohesive national representation of the state of mercury in the Canadian environment and how it relates to the health of Canadians. The goal of the talks and posters presented in this session will be to showcase the highlights of this synthesized work and reflect on how these results have been informing policies within Canada and internationally. Cutting-edge mercury research will be presented. We propose that this special session follows three themes including

1) Mercury, the Biological Environment, and Human Health – monitoring mercury levels,trends, and effects in wildlife,fish, and humans
2) Mercury and the Physical Environment - releases, levels, distribution, trends in air, water and soil
3) Knowledge to Action – informing domestic and international actions based on science results.

This session fits well with the theme of the conference as it represents an effective mechanism to provide sound scientific information to those who are developing policies to mitigate mercury exposure and can provide the foundation for future effectiveness evaluations of these policies. Other benefits to conference participants include an outline of current knowledge gaps in Canadian mercury science for future research, and a potential model for state of science assessments in other countries and globally.