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As new global mercury treaty enters into force, worldwide mercury production skyrockets, 
notes Global NGO Coalition on World Environmental Health Day

Geneva, 26 September 2017- As 156 countries convened for the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention, 
a new UN report shows mercury mining skyrocketing in the last 5 years. Moreover, much of that mercury is used in artisanal and 
small scale gold mining (ASGM), the largest source of global mercury pollution.

Currently, countries do not have reliable information about trade in neighboring countries and within their own region. 
This problem is compounded where borders between countries are “porous,” and a significant portion of trade is informal or illegal. 
For example, mercury may enter a region through legal trade to one country, but then be traded illegally across borders to neighboring countries. 

“Informal trade is difficult to track, and therefore does not appear in the official trade statistics,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, 
Project Manager, Zero Mercury Campaign at the European Environmental Bureau. 
“With timely reporting, Parties can better understand mercury flows in order to better enforce trade restrictions in the Convention.”

“In recent years there have been a number of shocks to the global market, resulting in a doubling of the price of mercury in the last 12 months alone,” 
said Michael Bender, Co-coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group. “In addition, EU and US export bans now in place have resulted 
in a major shift in the main trading hub to Asia.”

“The emergence over the past five years of new small-scale producers of mercury in Mexico and Indonesia has made a difficult situation worse,” 
said Satish Sinha, Associate Director at Toxics Link in India. “Between these two countries alone, around 1000 tonnes are produced annually.”

“The main objective of the Minamata Convention is to protect human health and the environment by, in part, simultaneously 
reducing mercury supply and demand,” said  Rico Euripidou, Environmental Health Campaign Manager at groundWork 
in South Africa. Without adequate reporting on the global movement of mercury it will 
be difficult to monitor the overall effectiveness of the Convention, say NGOs.

“Annual reporting is consistent with the requirements of other environmental conventions such as Basel and the Montreal Protocol,” 
said Leslie Adogame, Executive Director at Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development in Nigeria.
“Legal trade flows must be understood before informal or illegal trade can be adequately addressed.”

An analysis of publicly available UN COMTRADE data over the period 2013-2016 (see below) reveals that the majority of global mercury flows 
from commodity trading centres (such as Hong Kong, Singapore and the UAE) to developing country regions (such as Africa and Latin America) 
where mercury use in ASGM is prolific in response to the largest global gold rush the world has ever seen. 

see table at the pdf

see also PR in FR 

Notes to the editor

http://www.mercuryconvention.org/

 https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/21725/global_mercury.pdf?sequence=1&;;isAllowed=y

http://www.ifeh.org/wehd/

www.zeromercury.org

For further information, please contact:                                         

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 " target="_blank"> 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 ">  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " target="_blank"> 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 " target="_blank"> 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 ">  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " target="_blank"> 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

David Lennett, Natural Resources Defense Council, T:  +1 202 460 8517    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " target="_blank"> 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 "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " target="_blank"> 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

*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.

Home Press Releases Mercury in measuring equipment: Unnecessary health risk!
Mercury in measuring equipment: Unnecessary health risk! PDF Print
Tuesday, 21 February 2006 01:00
eeb_logoban_hg_logoeen_logohealth_care_without_harm_logo

[Brussels, 21 February 2006] Environmental and health NGOs' have welcomed the Commission’s proposal today – amending a directive – for the restriction of the marketing and use of mercury in certain measuring and control devices. This follows up quite promptly on action proposed in the EU’s Mercury Strategy adopted in January 2005.

“We are disappointed however that despite our call in June 2005, the scope of the Commission’s proposal is still narrower than the foreseen action of the EU Mercury Strategy ii”, noted Elena Lymberidi, Zero Mercury Project Coordinator at the European Environmental Bureau.

In the end, mercury use will only be eliminated in measuring devices for consumers and fever thermometers for doctors and veterinarians”, said Lisette van Vliet, Toxics Policy Advisor for Health Care Without Harm. “All other measuring and control devices for professional use, like room or equipment thermometers, will not be mercury-free, despite available alternatives. For example, hospitals can continue to use blood pressure gauges and gastro-intestinal tubes containing mercury”.

Devices containing mercury can pose a risk to human health and the environment both during and after use, because they are easily broken. They end up in the waste storage, landfills and incinerators. Most of this mercury is eventually released to contaminate air, water and soil, and ends up in certain kinds of fish at unsafe levels, posing an unacceptable health risk especially for children and women of childbearing age.

A general restriction should be put in place on the marketing and use of mercury in all measuring and control equipment for consumer and professional use (especially in households, healthcare facilities and schools). This restriction should only allow time-limited exemptions where adequate alternatives are not yet available. Individual EU Member Statesiii and some hospital associationsiv have already taken action in banning or restricting the use of such products containing mercury – including professional devices – with several exemptions where adequate alternatives do not exist. v,vi,vii,viii

“Many of these devices have already been extensively analysed. Non-mercury alternatives are commercially available – and costs are comparable”, said Genon Jensen, Executive Director of the European Public Health Alliance Environment Network. “Any manufacturer who still wants to use the toxic chemical – in cases where there is no alternative – should then be required to apply for special permission”.ix,x,xi,xii

Actions related to mercury measuring devices and instruments are necessary because of their significant use within the EU and worldwide”, said Michael Bender, Northern Coordinator of the Ban Mercury Working Group. “The estimated 166 tons of annual mercury consumption in measuring and control devices represents a tremendous opportunity for lowering worldwide mercury demand. If mercury is so toxic that it is being eliminated – in much smaller quantities – from electrical and electronic equipment right now, in line with the RoHS Directive, it is absurd to leave it in so many measuring devices and instruments that can easily be replaced by mercury- free alternatives”.

We call on the European Parliament and Council to strengthen the Commission’s proposal.


For more information

See position paper:

http://www.zeromercury.org/position papers/050603 NGOs comments WD measuring equipment dire ctive.pdf

Contact :

Elena Lymberidi, European Environmental Bureau (EEB), www.eeb.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,

T: +32 2 289 1301.

Genon K. Jensen, EPHA Environment Network (EEN), www.env-health.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,

T: +32 2 233 3875.

Lisette van Vliet, Health Care Without Harm Europe, www.noharm.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,

T: +32 2 233 3877.

Michael Bender, Ban Mercury Working Group, www.ban.org/Ban-Hg-Wg/, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,

T: +1 802 223 9000.

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 Ban Mercury Working Group www.ban.org/Ban-Hg-Wg/, is an international coalition of 28 public interest non-governmental organisations from around the world formed initially in 2002 by two US-based NGOs, the Basel Action Network (www.ban.org) and the Mercury Policy Project (www.Mercurypolicy.org) working to end pollution from the toxic metal mercury.

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).

ii Action 7: “The Commission intends to propose in 2005 an amendment to Directive 76/769/EECii to restrict the marketing for consumer use and healthcare of non-electrical or electronic measuring and control equipment containing mercury”.

iii Countries such as Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway.

iv http://www.cleanmed.org/europe/2004/english/docs/press/press_vienna_declaration.pdf

v http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/chemicals/mercury/pdf/norway.pdf

vi http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/chemicals/mercury/pdf/sweden.pdf

vii http://www.eeb.org/activities/mercury/Petra%20Hagstrom%20presentation%20Hg%20Madrid%20042205.pdf

viii French response to Consultation document Development of an EU Mercury Strategy Invitation to Comment, http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/chemicals/mercury/pdf/france_en.pdf

ix See a detailed comparison of mercury and non-mercury measuring devices and instruments performed for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection at www.maine.gov/dep/mercury/lcspfinal.pdf and the proposed strategy based on that report at www.maine.gov/dep/mercury/productsweb.pdf. Following the submission of this strategy, the Maine Legislature enacted a prohibition on the sale of most mercury measuring devices and instruments effective July 2006. Appendix B to the report contains some examples of substantial cleanup expenditures resulting from measuring instrument breakage.

x Global Mercury Assessment, UNEP, December 2002, p.141

xi http://www.informinc.org/fsmercalts.pdf and http://www.informinc.org/fsmerchealth.pdf

xii Nordic Council of Ministers, “Mercury – a global pollutant requiring global initiatives”, Copenhagen 2002 http://www.norden.org/pub/miljo/miljo/sk/2002-516.pdf