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New treaty’s entry into force set to curtail global mercury crisis, say NGOs


“While there are alternatives to mercury, there are no alternatives to global cooperation,” said Michael Bender, coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group. “Mercury respects no boundaries and exposes people everywhere”
“Only a global pact can curtail this dangerous neurotoxin.”

In October 2013 the convention text was adopted and signed by 128 countries, but would not take legal effect until at least 50 countries had ratified it formally.  This milestone was reached in May of this year, and the convention enters into force today 16 August. 

“We are now on the right track,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager, European Environmental Bureau and ZMWG co- coordinator. 

“Over time, the Convention is expected to provide the necessary technical and financial resources to reduce the risk of exposure to mercury worldwide. Governments must therefore move swiftly towards efficient implementation of the Treaty’s provisions”.

The aim of the Convention is "to protect the human health and the environment” from mercury releases.

The treaty holds critical obligations for Parties to ban new primary mercury mines while phasing out existing ones and also includes a ban on many common products and processes using mercury, measures to control releases, and a requirement for national plans to reduce mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.  In addition, it seeks to reduce trade, promote sound storage of mercury and its disposal, address contaminated sites and reduce exposure from this dangerous neurotoxin.

The First Conference of the Parties will take place from 24 to 29 September 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.  Over 1,000 delegates and around 50 ministers are expected to assemble in Geneva to celebrate and lay the groundwork for the treaty’s overall effectiveness.

The Minamata Convention joins 3 other UN conventions seeking to reduce impacts from chemicals and waste – the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.


For more information, see:




Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, ZMWG International Coordinator
T: +32 2 2891301,  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 " data-mce-href="mailto: 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

Michael Bender, ZMWG International Coordinator, T: +1 802 917 8222,   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 " data-mce-href="mailto: 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

Notes to the editors:

Mercury is a global pollutant that travels long distances. Its most toxic form – methylmercury - accumulates in large predatory fish and is taken up in our bodies through eating fish, with the worst impacts on babies in utero and small children. 

*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.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe's largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. Our experts work on climate change, biodiversity, circular economy, air, water, soil, chemical pollution, as well as policies on industry, energy, agriculture, product design and waste prevention. We are also active on overarching issues as sustainable development, good governance, participatory democracy and the rule of law in Europe and beyond.

We have over 140 members in over 30 countries.

EC register for interest representatives: Identification number 06798511314-27
International non-profit association - Association internationale sans but lucratif (AISBL)

Home Press Releases A healthy advance: European Parliament edges closer to eliminating mercury in the health sector
A healthy advance: European Parliament edges closer to eliminating mercury in the health sector PDF Print
Thursday, 14 September 2006 01:00

[Brussels, 14 September 2006] Health and environment NGOsi welcome the European Parliament’s Environment Committee’s vote yesterday supporting a ban on measuring devices containing mercury, including those used in hospitals and doctors’ surgeries. “The Committee have very sensibly held fast to their position on the EU’s Strategy on Mercury regarding healthcare devices”, said Elena Lymberidi, of the European Environmental Bureau. “As long as the full Parliament votes for this position at the next stage of the legislative procedure, the public and our environment will be better protected from the scourge of mercury.”

The NGOs congratulate the Committee for its report which proposes a ban on mercury-containing instruments such as fever thermometers and blood pressure devices both for the public and professional healthcare facilities. “This is potentially great news for the general public, patients, medical staff and the environment”, said Karolina Ruzickova, from Health Care Without Harm Europe “If this ban becomes law, mercury exposure risks in healthcare can be dramatically reduced.”

Ample high quality alternatives for both fever thermometers and blood pressure instruments can already be bought in Europe. “Although some exceptions for professional blood pressure instruments may still be allowed, this ban can bring us a long way in eliminating unnecessary and highly risky use of mercury”, said Lisette van Vliet, Toxics Policy Advisor for the European Public Health Alliance Environment Network. “Mercury contamination from blood pressure instruments in and from hospitals is still a big problem. We hope that mercury-free alternatives are carefully considered when exemptions are permitted”.

However, the NGOs criticise the Committee’s position on small barometers, which overturns the Commission’s earlier proposal to ban all barometers for public sale regardless of size. The manufacture of small barometers may now continue, even though these instruments pose a great risk of contamination and severe harm to health if they break, particularly in people’s homes. The cost of cleaning up mercury contamination can also be high.

Anti-mercury NGOs now call on the all Members of the European Parliament at the Plenary vote in late October and on the EU Member States at the Council meeting in December to follow the line set by the Environment Committee on medical devices, non-fever thermometers and manometers, but to follow the Commission’s proposal on small barometers.

For more information:-

Elena Lymberidi, European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Tel +32 2 289 1301, Karolina Ruzickova, Health Care Without Harm Europe, Tel: +420 222 782 808

Lisette van Vliet, EPHA Environment Network (EEN), Tel: +32 2 234 3645 www.zeromercury.org; www.env-health.org; www.noharm.org

See also letter sent to the Members of the Environment Committee:

http://www.zeromercury.org/EU_developments/060912NGOs_key_demands_MeasControl_Equip_dir ENVI.pdf

i Environmental and Health NGOS include:

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) www.eeb.org, is a federation of over 145 environmental citizens’ organisations based in all EU member states and most accession countries, as well as in a few neighbouring countries. These organisations range from local and national, to European and international. The aim of the EEB is to protect and improve the environment of Europe and to enable the citizens of Europe to play their part in achieving that goal.

The Zero Mercury Working group, www.zeromercury.org, is an international coalition of more than 40 public interest non­governmental organizations from around the world formed in 2006 by the European Environmental Bureau and the Mercury Policy Project/Ban Mercury Working Group. The aim of the group is to reach ‘Zero’ emissions, demand and supply of mercury, from all sources we can control, towards eliminating mercury in the environment at EU level and globally.”

European Public Health Alliance Environment Network (EEN) http://www.env-health.org/ is an international non-governmental organisation advocating environmental protection as a means to improving health and well-being. Member groups and organisations represent health, environment, women, health professionals and others. The group has a diverse membership of 41 member groups (6 international organisations, 11 European networks and 24 national/local organisations) including non-governmental organisations, professional bodies representative of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, academic institutions and other not-for-profit organisations.

Health Care Without Harm Europe (HCWH) www.noharm.org is an international coalition of hospitals and healthcare systems, medical and nursing professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, labour unions, environmental and religious organisations. HCWH is dedicated to transforming the healthcare industry worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment.

Also supported by NGOs from the USA (Natural Resources Defence Council), India (Toxics Link), China (Global Village of Beijing), Brazil (Association for Combats against the POPS).