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 88% 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 98% since 1990 as coal use has declined. Coal remained a significant source in 2021, contributing 10% of UK emissions. In 2021, iron and steel production accounted for 9% of total emissions. The use of selenium by the glass industry is also a significant source – 15% of emissions in 1990 and also 15% in 2021, however the mass emitted has been reduced by 89% 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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