Another problem with China’s coal: Mercury in rice

Noelle Eckley Selin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Sae Yun Kwon, Pohang University of Science and Technology
Thursday, June 28, 2018

Both toxic and bioaccumulative, mercury is emerging as a food security issue both in China and across Asia, with rising emissions from industrialization and coal-fired electricity plants. Previously, consuming fish has been implicated as a major pathway for human exposure, but a recent study by Professor Noelle Selin and colleagues from Pohang University of Science and Technology has identified rice as an even larger potential threat to human health via mercury pollution.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

This research was funded by funded by MIT initiatives: MIT Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Laboratory (J‐WAFS) and MIT Leading Technology and Policy Initiative.

Story Image: Mercury enters rice through local industrial activities and through burning coal. David Woo, CC BY-ND



Noelle Eckley Selin is an Associate Professor in the Institute for Data, Systems and Society and the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. Her research uses atmospheric chemistry modeling to inform decision-making on air pollution, climate change and hazardous substances such as mercury and persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

Selin Group - Pollution, Impacts and Policy at MIT


Kwon, S. Y., Selin, N. E., Giang, A., Karplus, V. J., & Zhang, D. (2018). Present and future mercury concentrations in Chinese rice: Insights from modeling. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 32(3), 437-462.

Recent News

Breathing Easier in China

Noelle Selin awarded Hans Fischer Senior Fellowship

J-WAFS' Inaugural Seed Grant Projects Come to a Close

Noelle Selin: Tracing toxins around the world

ClimateX: Brokering International Climate Deals

Monitoring and Mitigating Mercury

Selin Awarded Tenure