Atmospheric emissions of heavy metals in the Baltic Sea region
Editor(s): Alexey Gusev, EMEP MSC-E
Annual emissions of heavy metals from HELCOM countries have decreased during the period from 1990 to 2009 by 49% for cadmium, 53% for mercury, and 87% 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 have to reduce their emissions for these three metals below their levels in 1990. The Protocols has been signed by 36 and ratified by 29 countries and has been entered into force in 2003.
Annual emissions of heavy metals from HELCOM countries have decreased during the period 1990-2009 by 49% for cadmium, 53% for mercury, and 87% for lead (Figure 1). The most significant drop of cadmium emissions can be noted for Estonia (89%) and Lithuania (88%). Mercury emission most significantly decreased in Denmark (83%) and Germany (78%). For the lead emission, the most significant decrease can be seen for Sweden and Finland, about 39 and 16 times, respectively, comparing to 1990. Essential reduction of annual lead emission of HELCOM countries from 2003 to 2004 is mostly caused by the change of emission in Russia.
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 2009 total annual emissions of HELCOM countries amounted to 105 tonnes of cadmium, 38 tonnes of mercury, and 1074 tonnes of lead. Among the HELCOM countries the largest contributions to cadmium total emissions of HELCOM countries belong to Russia (56%) and Poland (38%), for mercury – to Poland (41%) and Russia (36%), and for lead – to Poland (43%) and Russia (31%).
Maps with time-series of annual total Cd, Hg, and Pb emissions of HELCOM countries are shown in Figures 2-4. The diagrams also show the fractions of emissions deposited to the Baltic Sea. The largest 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%).
Figure 1. Total annual emissions of cadmium, mercury, and lead to air from HELCOM countries in period 1990-2009 (% of 1990).
Figure 2: Map of cadmium emissions of HELCOM Contracting Parties (CP) to air as totals in tonnes/year for the period 1990-2009. 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!
Figure 3: Map of mercury emissions of HELCOM Contracting Parties (CP) to air as totals in tonnes/year for the period 1990-2009. 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!
Figure 4: Map of lead emissions of HELCOM Contracting Parties (CP) to air as totals in tonnes/year for the period 1990-2009. 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!
Table 1. Cadmium emissions from anthropogenic sources of HELCOM countries from 1990 to 2009. Values of emissions estimated using interpolation are shaded. Units: tonnes/year
Table 2. Lead emissions from anthropogenic sources of HELCOM countries from 1990 to 2009. Values of emissions estimated using interpolation are shaded. Units: tonnes/year
Table 3. Mercury emissions from anthropogenic sources of HELCOM countries from 1990 to 2009. Values of emissions estimated using interpolation are shaded. Units: tonnes/year
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. These data are available from the EMEP Centre on Emission Inventories and Projections (CEIP) (http://www.ceip.at/).
3. Geographical coverage:
4. Temporal coverage:
Data on lead, cadmium, and mercury annual emission totals are available for the period 1990 – 2009 for all HELCOM countries but Russia. The Russian Federation did not submitted information for 2001 and 2007-2009. Therefore the values of emissions from Russia for 2001 were obtained using interpolation between emissions for 2000 and 2002 and for 2007-2009 the same level of emissions as for 2006 was assumed in model simulations. Cadmium and mercury emission estimates for Finland for 1999 are produced by the old inventory data system and are inconsistent with the later years. Therefore the values of emissions for 1999 were obtained using interpolation between Finish emissions for 1998 and 2000. The estimates of emissions for this year will be revised by the new inventory data system.
5. Methodology and frequency of data collection:
National data on HM 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 emission data are processed using quality assurance and quality control procedure and stored in the UN ECE/EMEP emission database at EMEP/CEIP Centre.
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 emissions, lack of gridded emissions, and incompleteness
Among the HELCOM countries the level of uncertainty of official data on HM emission was reported by Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. From the EMEP countries the information on uncertainties of HM official emissions is available for France and the United Kingdom. The uncertainty of reported data on HM emissions expressed as percentage relative to mean value of emission is as follows:
Finland: Hg -22% - +22% Pb -25% - +25% Cd -25% - +25%
Denmark: Hg 130% Pb 625% Cd 325%
France: Hg 41% Pb 51% Cd 54%
Sweden: Hg 99% Pb 15% Cd 47%
UK: Hg -30% - +40%. Pb -30% - +50%. Cd -20% - +50%.
8. Further work required:
Further work of national experts on emissions of dioxins and furans is required to fill the gaps in the emission time-series and to reduce their uncertainties.
For reference purposes, please cite this Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets as follows:
[Author’s name(s)], [Year]. [Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets title]. HELCOM Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets 2011. Online. [Date Viewed], http://www.helcom.fi/environment2/ifs/en_GB/cover/.
Last updated 4 October 2011