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Global NGOs welcome WHO support for new Mercury Convention

Geneva, Switzerland, [23 January 2014]—Today, NGOs welcomed the adoption of a new resolution by the World Health Organization’s executive board (EB), agreeing to both endorse and lend support for countries to address the health-related aspects of the new Minamata Convention on Mercury. They also applauded WHO for encouraging governments to “promptly sign, ratify and implement” the Convention.

Prompt ratification will result in less pollution and human exposure to mercury, a poison that can affect the brain and the nervous system,” said Michael Bender, international coordinator for Zero Mercury Working Group, who presented a statement on behalf of Consumers International during the WHO EB meeting.  “To protect people’s brains, we are urging more testing of commonly consumed fish, consumption advisories, biomonitoring, and public health campaigns.”

The Convention’s objective is to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic mercury emissions through a range of provisions – including, for the first time in a global multilateral environment agreement – a dedicated health article.

“This type of WHO endorsed resolution will give us more leverage in developing countries (that place a lot of emphasis and trust in the WHO) to undertake mercury activities as per the treaty,” said Rico Euripidou of groundWork in South Africa.

The Convention’s provision on health encourages Parties to develop programmes to protect populations at risk from exposure to mercury through the development and implementation of health-based guidelines. In addition, the Convention requires parties to phase out certain mercury-containing products, including thermometers, sphygmomanometers, cosmetics, and topical antiseptics; phase down dental amalgam, and develop public health strategies to reduce use of mercury in artisanal and small scale gold mining.

Governments and all stakeholders involved need to build upon this momentum by undertaking mercury reduction activities in parallel, and ratifying the treaty as fast as possible,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, ZMWG International Coordinator.  “We urge 50 countries to step up and ratify by 2015.

The Convention holds critical obligations that affect primary mining of mercury use, trade, emissions and disposal, among others, that taken together will eventually lead to global mercury reductions. 

The WHO EB resolution must next be approved at the World Health Assembly at their annual meeting in May before it is finalized.

Contacts  

Michael Bender, ZMWG International Coordinator, T: +802-917-4579, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, T: +32 2 2891301, Mobile: +32 496 532818, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Alison Abrahams, EEB Communications Officer at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it +32 (0) 2289 13 09 or +32 (0) 489 304 962

http://www.consumersinternational.org/

http://www.zeromercury.org

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 NEW: The Minamata Convention on Mercury has been adopted!

ZMWG Press Release: Toxic Trade Emerges as Priority Issue for Asia During Mercury Treaty Adoption:Japan mercury exports cited,
10 October 2013
 

 ZMWG on the road towards the Mercury Diplomatic Conference

 ZMWG side event:50 by 2015- Make it Happen!. New Studies on Mercury Exposure risks and the ZMWG Action Challenge

THE text of the NEW MINAMATA TREATY ON MERCURY HAS BEEN AGREED!!!

see ZMWG summary of the treaty, January 2013

see ZMWG PR - 19 January 2013 and how we got there in INC 5

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The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) is an international coalition of over 95 public interest environmental and health non-governmental organizations from more than 50 countries from around the world formed in 2005 by the European Environmental Bureau and the Mercury Policy Project.  ZMWG strives for zero supply, demand, and emissions of mercury from all anthropogenic sources, with the goal of reducing mercury in the global environment to a minimum.  Our mission is to advocate and support the adoption and implementation of a legally binding instrument which contains mandatory obligations to eliminate where feasible, and otherwise minimize, the global supply and trade of mercury, the global demand for mercury, anthropogenic releases of mercury to the environment, and human and wildlife exposure to mercury.(FR)

The Zero Mercury Working Group was born out of the Zero Mercury Campaign project having as its ultimate objective ‘Zero’ emissions, demand and supply of mercury, from all sources we can control, in view of reducing to a minimum, mercury in the environment at EU level and globally. The project/campaign started in November 2004, by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) in collaboration with the Mercury Policy Project . Details on the history of the project can be found here.

Mercury and its compounds are highly toxic to humans, especially to the developing nervous system. They are also harmful to ecosystems and wildlife populations. Microbial metabolism of deposited mercury can create methylmercury, which has the capacity to collect in organisms (bioaccumulate) and to concentrate up food chains (biomagnify), especially in the aquatic food chain. Methylmercury is a well documented neurotoxicant, which may in particular cause adverse effects on the developing brain. It readily passes both the placental barrier and the blood-brain barrier, therefore, exposures during pregnancy are of highest concern. It may also cause adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, thereby leading to increased mortality. Methylmercury compounds are considered possible carcinogenic to humans according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Furthermore, inhalation of elemental mercury vapour includes symptoms such as tremors, insomnia, memory loss, neuromuscular changes, and headaches. Kidney and thyroid may be affected.

 

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