The UNEP (2005) Toolkit for identification and quantification of mercury releases was employed to carry out this analysis (UNEP Toolkit). The UNEP Toolkit was generated as a guidance tool to assist countries in managing mercury pollution as part of the UNEP’s Mercury Programme. The programme was established following the UNEP (2002) Mercury Assessment Report to the UNEP Governing Council in 2003, which stated that there was reason to warrant further international action to minimise the effects on humans and wildlife from the release of mercury in the environment. The UNEP established the programme for mercury with the role of encouraging countries “to adopt goals and take actions, to identify exposed populations, minimise exposures through outreach efforts, and reduce anthropogenic mercury releases” (UNEP, 2005).
The Toolkit allows standardised mercury reporting for regions and countries and therefore comparable mercury datasets. It was hoped that the generation of the toolkit, and subsequent adoption of the toolkit by countries around the world would lead to establishing a global picture of mercury emissions and therefore assist in prioritising actions to control and reduce mercury emissions (UNEP, 2005).
The Toolkit is in “Pilot Draft” form. An update of the toolkit was due to have been released but was not available at the time of carrying out this inventory. The Toolkit was used for the New Zealand mercury inventory as it represents international best practise in mercury emissions reporting.
Acquisition of data needed to complete the Toolkit required making contact with various industries within New Zealand, including the lamp industry, mining, petroleum, steel, cement and lime industries, medical and dental industries, and power generation and transmission companies, to obtain their estimates of mercury content in their raw materials or products so as to calculate emissions. Her Majesty’s Customs and New Zealand Statistics were also contacted for data on mercury and mercury-containing product imports into New Zealand. Energy statistics relevant to the use of coal, natural gas and liquid fuels, and generation of geothermal power, were sourced from the Ministry of Economic Development (MED) and the Electricity Commission.
Scientific information sources searched included scientific publications and periodicals, UNEP Mercury programme on-line sources, and similar sources from other countries, such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and European Commission mercury programmes.