Pollutant Information: Selenium 

About Selenium

Category: Heavy metals and base cations

Acute exposure to selenium by inhalation results in respiratory effects such as irritation to the mucous membranes, severe bronchitis and bronchial pneumonia. Selenium emissions have declined by 89% since 1990. The majority of selenium emissions in earlier years were from coal-fired power stations in particular and coal combustion generally, but emissions from coal combustion have fallen by 95% as coal use has declined.  It remains a significant source in 2016, contributing 35% of UK emissions. The use of selenium by the glass industry is also a significant source – 16% of emissions in 1990 and 14% in 2016, however the mass emitted has been reduced by 90% over that period by eliminating the use of selenium or control on particulate emissions from glass furnaces.

» View and Download Selenium emission summary data

Time series graph


Notable events

Start year End year Sector Information Impact
1984 1985 Public Electricity and Heat Production Miners strike resulting in a reduction in the consumption of coal and an increase in the consumption of alternative fuels in power stations for that year. Decrease in emissions

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