Asia accounts for just under half of all global releases of mercury, the report said.

Over the past 100 years, mercury found in the top 100 meters of the world's oceans has doubled and concentrations in waters deeper than that have gone up by 25 percent, the U.N. agency said, while rivers and lakes contain an estimated 260 metric tons of mercury that was previously held in soils.

UNEP's executive director, Achim Steiner, said mercury pollution remains "a major global, regional and national challenge in terms of threats to human health and the environment" but new technologies can reduce the risks.

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