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The threat of increased mercury exposure in the Western Balkans

HEAL recently published a briefing on the emerging public health threat from increasing mercury exposure in the Western Balkans, as part of an exchange on tackling mercury exposure in these countries.

Mercury is particularly harmful to children as it is highly toxic to the developing brain and nervous system. A recent study by one of the leading researchers, Philippe Grandjean has found that preventing exposure to methylmercury (MeHg) could save a potential of more than 600,000 IQ points annually, with a total economic benefit of up to 9 billion EUR per year.

Speaking at the launch event on 20 OCtober in Belgrade, Dr. Vesna Knjeginjic, the assistant minister for public health and health care programs of Serbia stated:

’’Reducing the levels of mercury in the environment leads to a decreased risk for our health, and particularly protects children who are most vulnerable to its effects. It is important to develop and implement mechanisms to better control pollution, and to ensure the greatest possible reductions of mercury emissions.’’

HEAL’s new briefing wants to draw attention to the fact that coal power plants are the number one source of mercury emissions in the EU, and the second largest source globally. With plans to more than double the coal capacity in the Western Balkans from 6.4 to 15 GW, mercury exposure is set to increase. HEAL advocates for the introduction of a moratorium on new coal projects, and a phase out of coal power generation in these countries.

Briefing available here in English and Serbian
Press release in Serbian

Last updated on 16 November 2015

About HEAL

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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