PAOC Spotlights

Noelle Selin on curbing mercury

Wed September 22nd, 2010
Morgan Bettex - MIT News Office

As U.N. negotiations begin on a global mercury treaty, PAOC atmospheric scientist Noelle Selin explains the challenges ahead...

The first United Nations negotiating session for a global, legally binding mercury treaty begins today in Stockholm. Continuing through Friday, this is the first of five planned negotiating sessions that will address global controls on mercury, a toxin that causes neurological damage and impairs brain development in infants and children around the world. The sessions are expected to result in a global treaty to be signed in late 2013 that will address the emissions and use of mercury in products, wastes and international trade. Noelle Selin, an assistant professor of engineering systems in MIT’s Engineering Systems Division, with a joint appointment in atmospheric chemistry in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, studies the interactions between science and policy in international environmental negotiations. She sat down with MIT News to discuss the first negotiating session, and what she considers to be the biggest hurdles to signing a global treaty, which is “not a given” for the U.S.