HALIFAX - More than 800 researchers from 48 countries have gathered in Halifax for a week long conference to examine the latest scientific advances relating to mercury in the environment.

Sandy Steffen, an atmospheric chemist with Environment Canada, and one of the conference co-chairs, says their goal is to provide policy-makers with good scientific information on which to base decisions.

As a pollutant, airborne mercury knows no borders and prolonged exposure can pose serious health concerns for humans and wildlife as it accumulates in the food chain.

The cost of minimizing the problem has become a major issue since coal-burning power plants are a major contributor to the mercury pollution problem.

Last year the government of Nova Scotia amended its air-quality regulations to extend the deadline for capping emissions in order to keep power rates down.

Part of the conference will involve a public workshop where people can learn more about sources of mercury and how to reduce exposure at home and at work through recycling.