From the archives - EA Withdraws Mercury SGV and associated reports

This popular post was from 23/11/2018

The Environment Agency has withdrawn the Soil Guideline Value (SGV) for mercury and the supporting reports following discussions with Public Health England (PHE) about a revised opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The SGV Report, the TOX Report, and the Supporting Information Document for Mercury will remain available for historical reference on the Government and Environment Agency archives and on the CL:AIRE Wall
The SGV for mercury was published in 2009. In 2012, EFSA published their scientific opinion on public health risk from inorganic mercury and methyl mercury in food. A summary and the full report are available here:

EFSA recommended oral TDI values for both inorganic mercury and methyl mercury that are lower than the oral HCV that was used in deriving the SGV. The EA are withdrawing their reports in light of this expert opinion. The Agency will not be updating these reports as it no longer undertakes work to derive new SGV or TOX reports, but it will continue to recommend that relevant public health bodies are consulted where industry has published or is developing alternative criteria for mercury which would also include elemental mercury.

A Note on the S4ULs for Mercury

In deriving the S4ULs for inorganic mercury and methylmercury LQM cited the EFSA (2012) opinion on the Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intakes (PTWIs) established by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) for methylmercury and inorganic mercury. LQM derived oral Tolerable Daily Intakes (TDIoral) based on TWIs established by EFSA (2012) that, as stated in Nathanail et al (2015), were lower than the oral TDIs used in deriving the SGVs by the Environment Agency (2009). LQM considered UK sources of information with respect to background intakes (food, water and air) as described by Nathanail et al (2015), including the 2006 UK Total Diet Study (FSA, 2009) that was used by EFSA in their dietary exposure estimates.


EFSA (2012) EFSA Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM); Scientific Opinion on the risk for public health related to the presence of mercury and methylmercury in food. EFSA Journal 2012;10(12):2985. [241 pp.] doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2012.2985. Available online:

Environment Agency. (2009). Soil Guideline Values for mercury in soil (Science Report No. SC050021 / Mercury SGV). Environment Agency (Bristol, UK). Available online:

Nathanail CP, McCaffrey C, Gillett AG, Ogden RC, & Nathanail JF. (2015). The LQM/CIEH S4ULs for Human Health Risk Assessment. Land Quality Press, a Division of Land Quality Management Ltd: Nottinghamshire, UK. Available online:

FSA. (2009). Measurement of the concentrations of metals and other elements from the 2006 UK Total Diet Study (Food Survey Information Sheet No. 01/09). Food Standards Agency (London, UK). Accessed from:

NOTE: This FSA document is currently not available from the Food Standards Agency website or the National Archives website, but see Rose et al (2010) available from: