March 30, 2004
A mercury analysis manual preparation committee organized by the Ministry of the Environment finalized a manual for mercury analysis on February 12, 2004 based on the mercury analysis method developed at the National Institute for Minamata Disease.
The impact of mercury exposure in low concentrations is being focused on among the advanced countries in these days. For Japanese, fish and shellfish are not only the important source of protein but also one of the core of the food culture. The discreet and prompt measures based on the scientific knowledge are necessary against the risk of mercury exposure by taking fish and shellfish. Epidemiological study on the impact of mercury exposure in low concentrations on growth of fetuses and infants was started in 2002 in Japan.
On the other hand, mercury pollution such as air pollution from coal-fired power stations and water pollution from chlor-alkali plants has still been continuing all over the world. Further more, the developing countries having gold mines are facing serious mercury pollution caused by gold refinement, and monitoring of polluted condition is an urgent matter.
Under these circumstances, highly accurate analytical technology of mercury which can analyze not only total mercury but also methylmercury has been demanded strongly inside and outside of Japan for more precise risk assessment. The method of mercury analysis adopted in the manual has been used in various opportunities and gained a high reputation internationally. The committee delivered the method for more practical use and finalized the manual (available in Japanese only).