Cd, Pb, Hg emissions to air
Annual emissions of heavy metals from HELCOM countries have decreased during the period from 1990 to 2003 by 47% for cadmium, 65% for mercury, and 62% for lead.
Results and Assessment
Relevance of the indicator for describing the developments in the environment
This indicator shows the levels and trends in cadmium, mercury, and lead emissions from anthropogenic sources of HELCOM countries to the atmosphere. The emissions of heavy metals represent the pressure of emission sources on the atmosphere of the Baltic Sea region and subsequently on the Baltic Sea aquatic environment.
Policy relevance and policy reference
HELCOM adopted a Recommendation in May 2001 for the cessation of hazardous substance discharges/emissions by 2020, with the ultimate aim of achieving concentrations in the environment near to background values for naturally occurring substances and close to zero for man-made synthetic substances.
On the European level the relevant policy to the control of emissions of heavy metals to the atmosphere is being taken in the framework of UN ECE Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP). The Executive Body of CLRTAP adopted the Protocol on Heavy Metals on 24 June 1998 in Aarhus (Denmark). It targets three particularly harmful metals: cadmium, lead and mercury. According to one of the basic obligations, Parties will have to reduce their emissions for these three metals below their levels in 1990. The Protocols has been signed by 36 and ratified by 22 countries and has been entered into force in 2003.
Annual emissions of heavy metals from HELCOM countries have decreased during the period 1990-2003 by 47% for cadmium, 65% for mercury, and 62% for lead (Figure 1). For individual countries, the most significant drop of cadmium emissions can be noted for Finland (80%). In case of lead and mercury emission, the most significant decrease can be seen for Sweden (97% and 83%)
The reduction in heavy metal emission to the atmosphere is a consequence of increased use of lead-free fuels, use of cleaner production technologies as well as of economic contraction and industrial restructuring in Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Russia in early 1990s.
In 2003 total annual emissions of HELCOM countries amounted to 116 tonnes of cadmium, 61 tonnes of mercury, and 3271 tonnes of lead. Among the HELCOM countries the largest contributions to cadmium total emissions of HELCOM countries belong to Russia (45%) and Poland (42%), for lead – to Russia (65%) and Poland (18%), and for mercury – to Germany (45%) and Poland (32%). Maps of the Baltic Sea Region and time-series of annual total Cd, Hg, Pb emissions of HELCOM countries are shown on Figures 2-4. The diagrams on the maps also show the fractions of emissions deposited to the Baltic Sea. The highest fractions belong to Denmark and Sweden (about 20% for lead and cadmium and 10% for mercury), and the lowest one to Russia (about 0.5%).
Bartnicki J., Gusev A., Berg T., and H. Fagerli  Atmospheric Supply of Nitrogen, Lead, Cadmium, Mercury and Lindane to the Baltic Sea in 2003. MSC-W, MSC-E, CCC. EMEP Centres Joint Report for HELCOM. EMEP/MSC-W Technical Report 3/2005. October 2005.
Figure 1. Total annual emissions of cadmium, mercury, and lead to air from HELCOM countries in period 1990-2003 (% of 1990).
Figure 2: Map of cadmium emissions of HELCOM Contracting Parties (CP) to air as totals in tonnes/year for the period 1990-2003. Red sections of the bars identify the fraction of emission deposited to the Baltic Sea. (The emission data of the CP refer to the total area of the CP except for Russian Federation, for which emissions from the territory of Russian Federation within the EMEP domain is used). Note: different scales have been used for different countries! Click image to enlarge!
Figure 3: Map of mercury emissions of HELCOM Contracting Parties (CP) to air as totals in tonnes/year for the period 1990-2003. Red sections of the bars identify the fraction of emission deposited to the Baltic Sea. (The emission data of the CP refer to the total area of the CP except for Russian Federation, for which emissions from the territory of Russian Federation within the EMEP domain is used). Note: different scales have been used for different countries! Click image to enlarge!
Figure 4: Map of lead emissions of HELCOM Contracting Parties (CP) to air as totals in tonnes/year for the period 1990-2003. Red sections of the bars identify the fraction of emission deposited to the Baltic Sea. (The emission data of the CP refer to the total area of the CP except for Russian Federation, for which emissions from the territory of Russian Federation within the EMEP domain is used). Note: different scales have been used for different countries! Click image to enlarge!
Table 1. Cadmium emissions from anthropogenic sources of HELCOM countries from 1990 to 2003. Units: tonnes/year
Table 2. Lead emissions from anthropogenic sources of HELCOM countries from 1990 to 2003. Units: tonnes/year
Table 3. Mercury emissions from anthropogenic sources of HELCOM countries from 1990 to 2003. Units: tonnes/year
1. Source: EMEP/MSC-E, UN ECE Secretariat
2. Description of data: Annual total emissions of all three metals were officially reported to the UN ECE Secretariat by HELCOM countries (EB.AIR/GE.1/2005/8).
3. Geographical coverage: European region
4. Temporal coverage: Data on lead, cadmium, and mercury emissions are available for the period 1990 - 2003. Some of the HELCOM countries, in particular, Germany, Lithuania, Russia, and Poland submitted part of the data for this period. Germany submitted values of emissions for 1990, 1995, and forecast for 2010. Missing values for other years were obtained by interpolation. Lithuania submitted data on mercury emissions for 1995-2002. Emissions for previous years 1990-1994 were assumed equal to the level of 1994. Russia and Poland did not provide information for 2003. Values of emissions from Poland and Russia for 2003 were taken equal to 2002.
5. Methodology and frequency of data collection: National data on emissions are annually submitted by countries Parties to CLRTAP Convention to the UN ECE Secretariat; the methodology is based on combination of emission measurements and emission estimates based on activity data and emission factors. Submitted data are passing through QA/QC procedure and stored in the UN ECE/EMEP emission database at EMEP/MSC-W.
6. Strength and weakness:
Strength: data on emissions are annually submitted, checked and stored in the database
Weakness: gaps in time series of national emissions, uncertainties in national emission
7. Uncertainty: Official data on heavy metal emissions can be underestimated to some extent (Ilyin et al., 2004). According to the data of UBA/TNO project (Berdowski et al., 1997), which provided expert estimates of heavy metal emissions for European region, their uncertainty can vary within a factor of 1.5 - 3.5. For countries of northwestern and central Europe (for instance, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Poland) actual emission values can differ from estimates by 20-50% and for countries of central and eastern part of Europe the uncertainty can be essentially higher. Problems: Germany, Poland, and Russia emissions for 2003 are missing.
8. Further work required: Further work is required on filling gaps in time series of emissions and reducing their uncertainties.
For reference purposes, please cite this indicator fact sheet as follows:
[Author’s name(s)], [Year]. [Indicator Fact Sheet title]. HELCOM Indicator Fact Sheets 2005. Online. [Date Viewed], http://www.helcom.fi/environment2/ifs/en_GB/cover/.
Last updated 25 Nov 2005.