The application of critical path techniques, as applied to radioactivity, to the control of other pollutants in coastal waters is outlined and, in particular, the way in which the method can be applied to the control of mercury discharges in the UK is illustrated. It is shown that a simple empirical relationship between discharge rate and exposure of the critical target can be used to determine satisfactory mercury input rates provided that an acceptable exposure standard for the target in question can be established and interpreted in terms of environmental concentrations. The derivation of this standard for mercury is discussed and the prediction of environmental concentrations likely to be achieved at given rates of discharge is shown to be in accord with the results of subsequent monitoring programmes. © 1981.
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