|dc.description.abstract||Mercury and its compunds are applied in numerous industrial processes and products. For instance, mercury is used in chlor-alkali production and in pesticides, as well as in products such as thermometers and batteries. These processes and appliances have become commonplace and taken for granted necessities in many societies. However, the negative environmental and human health risks from mercury release outweigh these uses positive benefits.
Mercury is toxic and when it is released it bioaccumulates and bioconcentrates in the food chain. Mercury persists in the environment and is capable of being transported aerially far from its original source. Due to long-range transport, emissions in any country can contribute to deposition and risks in others. Hence, even areas with minimal natural or anthropogenic mercury release may be adversely affected by mercury risks. It is therefore significant to examine if nations address mercury risks sufficiently, to avoid them becoming global problems.
This thesis will identify the risks associated with using mercury in industrial products and processes. To do this, it is informed by Ulrich Beck’s ‘risk society’ theory. The aim of the thesis is to explore how mercury-associated risks are managed in two countries, Sweden and Australia, in order to limit negative consequences and to offer recommendations for better mercury risk management. The thesis examined Sweden and Australia’s ability to be organised in response to risks associated with mercury use, such as the extent to which Sweden and Australia have introduced alternatives to mercury products, or applied cleaner technologies to processes that utilise mercury. Further, the researcher explored if the two nations had set any specific national goals or legislation to minimise mercury release. The research methods for this research was a case study approach which involved document searching and primary data collection via in-depth interviews with key stakeholders from non-governmental organisations, governmental agencies, academic and research institutions and corporations.
Ulrich Beck outlines certain criteria that a society could encompass in order to be efficiently organised towards modern risks, this evaluation criteria was utilised to compare Sweden and Australia’s mercury risk management.
The results of the study identified several cultural, economic and social risks engendered in mercury applications. Further, the findings of this research show that both countries need to strive for more complete risk organisation to not affect others by their mercury use. Sweden and Australia are, to an extent, handling their mercury related risks. However, both countries need to improve in areas such as policy and information and education outreach in regard to mercury risks. This comparative study demonstrated Sweden has implemented more efforts to mitigate mercury-related risks than Australia. The thesis concludes with a series of recommendations to further improve mercury management in Sweden and Australia. For instance, both countries would benefit from greater legal restrictions. Sweden’s remaining uses of mercury in products and processes needs to be covered by a general ban. While in Australia, regulations are required, especially for mercury products such as thermometers and blood pressure gauges.
Sweden and Australia both continue to contribute mercury emissions to the global pool. As such, wildlife, people and the natural environment remain at risk from the mercury used in products and processes in both nations. The findings presented in this thesis point to the ways both countries could engage in a more effective organisation towards modern risks, such as mercury risks. The research makes a substantial contribution by providing insight into ways of managing other modern risks, such as other toxic chemicals. The study findings also contribute to the understanding of how other similar industrialised developed countries can manage their mercury use and risks.||