Faculty Associate Henrik Selin Launches NSF project on Mercury in Small-Scale Mining

Henrik Selin, an Associate Professor in the Pardee School of Global Studies and a Faculty Associate at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, was recently awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to explore the environmental and human health risks from mercury pollution in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM).

ASGM is estimated to be the largest source of mercury in the atmosphere, a potent environmental pollutant that can travel far from its emission source. The project, in collaboration with researchers at MIT and the University of California Irvine, applies an integrated human-technical-environmental perspective to the problem, focusing specifically on Peru’s Amazonian region of Madre de Dios. The objectives of the project are to determine the quantity of mercury emitted from ASGM; the governance options for reducing mercury emissions; the potential ways to measure progress towards improving miners’ well-being; and the ways in which ideas about mercury and pollution — in the context of power, race, and gender — affect sustainability transitions.

Last year, Prof. Selin was selected as an expert for the Minamata Convention on Mercury effectiveness evaluation committee, representing the Pardee Center, which is an observer organization of the Convention. He was selected as an expert representing civil society based on his extensive work in international environmental governance and the management of hazardous substances.