Mercury pollution results in great costs for society, for instance due to health problems and loss of income due to reduced commercial fisheries.
In a socio-economic perspective, mercury pollution results in costs to society. Examples are the cost of damage from negative impact on human health and loss of income from reduced commercial fisheries. The most serious impact on human health is neurological damage leading to impaired development of the brain, i.e. loss of IQ (Intelligence Quotient) points.
The study ‘Socio-economic costs of continuing the status-quo of mercury pollution’ assessed the costs associated with loss of IQ following consumption of contaminated fish. Costs induced by reduction in IQ include, for example, loss of earnings and loss of education. The assessment was based on a status quo scenario where it was assumed that no further action would be taken to control mercury emissions in
the period 2005 to 2020.
The annual cost of damage caused by ingestion of methyl mercury is predicted to be approximately USD 10 billion in 2020,assuming a status quo scenario. However, the total cost to society of damage caused by mercury pollution is likely to be considerably higher since the analysis was limited to costs related to loss of IQ and did not include other potential costs to society.