The conference is expected to draw more than 1,000 scientists, academics and policymakers from more than 44 countries, as well as representatives of industries and nongovernmental organizations involved in mercury issues.
A primary goal of the gathering is to distill current scientific knowledge about mercury in the environment into succinct, straightforward statements that will be directly relevant to government policy-makers, resource managers and others concerned about the sources and consequences of mercury pollution. Conference hosts include the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
A press conference will be held on Friday, Aug. 11, when a declaration will be released on the present scientific understanding of global mercury pollution. Throughout the week, each registered conferee will be allowed to vote to approve or reject individual statements regarding different aspects of mercury pollution. The resulting final declaration, a concise statement of scientific consensus, is expected to figure prominently in future discussions and debates around the world as governments, industries and citizens address the widespread problem of mercury in the environment.
The declaration, like the conference itself, will focus on four critical issues: health risks and toxicological effects of methylmercury; recovery of mercury-contaminated fisheries; societal consequences of mercury pollution; and source attribution of atmospheric mercury deposition.
Leading up to the release of the declaration will be more than 240 presentations and 800 poster sessions.