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Associated topic: Heavy metals

Emissions monitoring period: since 1990

Data source: CITEPA / SECTEN format - April 2017


Sources of the pollutant

Mercury (Hg) is released in small but always too significant quantities by chlorine production, coal and petroleum combustion and also by the incineration of household, medical and industrial waste. Preventive measures such as the ban on mercury in batteries and medical thermometers have significantly reduced mercury emissions in recent years.


Effect of the pollutant

According to the World Health Organisation, elementary mercury and methyl mercury are toxic to the central and peripheral nervous system. Inhaling mercury vapour can have a toxic and sometimes fatal effect on the nervous, digestive and immune systems and on the lungs and kidneys.

Heavy metals can be toxic for the biosphere. Most being under particulate shape, they accumulate in the water, the grounds, the food and the air.


Classification of sub-sectors* with the highest emission levels in 2015

Classification Sub-sectors Share of sub-sector in total national emissions in mainland France
1 Chemical industry 17%
2 Ferrous metals production 17%
3 Non-metallic minerals, building materials 14%
4 Other energy transformation sectors 12%
5 Waste treatment 11%

*: one sector out of six (energy transformation, manufacturing industry, residential/tertiary, agriculture/forestry, road transport and other transport) is broken down into sub-sectors.


Emissions and trends

Minimum observed: 3.4 t in 2015
Maximum observed: 25 t in 1991
Emissions in 2015: 3.4 t
Trends 2015/1990: -86.1%
Trends 2015/maximum: -86.4%
Trends 2015/minimum: 0%

Measurement unit: t (tonne)

Source CITEPA / SECTEN format – April 2017

Graph Hg 17

Graph Legende sans UTCFv2

Source CITEPA / SECTEN format – April 2017

Tab Hg 17

(*) Following UNECE/NEC definitions : emissions classified "except total" are not included, i.e. emissions from international maritime, emissions from domestic and international air transport cruise (≥ 1000 m), emissions from agriculture and forestry biogenic sources and emissions from non-anthropogenic sources.
(e) preliminary estimate



All sectors contribute to mercury emissions in mainland France, in varying proportions... (to read more, consult the SECTEN report online via your login and password)

Data source: CITEPA / SECTEN format - April 2017