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Summary of the First Conference of the Parties for the Minamata Convention on Mercury

24th-29th September, Geneva, Switzerland.

The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) closely followed the First Conference of the Parties for the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP1) in Geneva, Switzerland, 24th-29th of September 2017 and intervened as appropriate[1]. We were pleased to see the COP1 reached consensus on pending matters from prior meetings of the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC) which resulted in establishing an effective Convention operational framework for achieving significant mercury reductions.

Our main priorities for COP1 included adoption of forms and guidance that was approved at INC 7, and addressing the issues of reporting, waste thresholds, interim storage guidelines, effectiveness evaluation, and matters for future action, which included the following decisions.

  • Article 3 guidance on identifying mercury stocks, and the forms/instructions for complying with mercury trade consent and related certification requirements;
  • The product and process exemption forms and associated register of exemptions under Article 6 of the Convention; a registrar will be kept by the Secretariat and these will also be available to the public
  • Article 8 (air emissions) guidance on BAT/ BEP, options for existing facility control requirements, preparing emissions inventories, and selection of “relevant sources” within the specified source categories; and
  • The Guidance for preparing the ASGM National Action Plan (NAP) under article 7.

COP1 also saw significant progress concerning various other ZMWG priorities, including :

Reporting:          Forms were adopted for use by Parties to report back on the measures undertaken to meet Convention obligations and on the effectiveness of those measures.  In particular, ZMWG most welcomed the decision for a shorter reporting cycle for supply and trade, reporting per year data on a biennial basis. For other obligations, Parties will report every four years. It was also agreed that each Party will submit its first biennial report by 31 December 2019 and its first full report by December 2021. Parties are also encouraged to submit an electronic form,  and the Secretariat is requested to make the Parties electronic reports available.

Furthermore, it was agreed that Parties would provide access to their data related to mercury emissions, under Article 8. Parties would also provide the rational on how they plan to ensure that facilities responsible for at least 75% of the emissions from a source category are subject to controls.

Waste Thresholds:          COP1 established an intercessional work group to further elaborate on waste thresholds, building on a document introduced by Japan. As recommended by NRDC/ZMWG, the terms of reference for the working group were focused more on determining which mercury wastes warrant thresholds rather than assuming thresholds are appropriate for all wastes. The expert group will identify the types of waste that fall within the categories specified in paragraph 2 of Article 11, provide related information; prioritising the types of waste identified that are most relevant for the establishment of waste thresholds, and identify possible approaches to establishing any needed thresholds for those prioritised waste for consideration at COP2. We were also pleased to see COP1 approving the participation of civil society within the working group, another ZMWG priority.

Interim Storage:                             COP1 requested the Secretariat to undertake further revision of the draft guidelines through input from relevant experts, including technical experts from the Basel Convention and present a revised draft for consideration at COP2. Provisional use of the current draft guidelines is encouraged.

Effectiveness Evaluation:             COP1 adopted a draft road map for establishing arrangements both for providing comparable monitoring data and elements of an effectiveness evaluation framework, as ZMWG had sought.  To that end an ad hoc group of experts was established including 25 experts nominated by the Parties – 5 per region, as well as 10 civil society experts, including NGOs, as observers.

Matters for Future Action (Article 3) - (Article 14):              Several matters were brought up for consideration. Under Article 3, trade in mercury compounds was one of several issued identified for future consideration by the COP. In regards to Article 14 – Capacity building, technical assistance and technology transfer, Parties and other stakeholder were invited to submit relevant information on capacity building, technical assistance and technology transfer for the Secretariat to compile and present at COP2.

Despite progress made, challenges remain, both related to the location and structure of the Minamata Convention Secretariat and the Memorandum of Understanding regarding the financial mechanism of the Convention with the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). The Secretariat will be temporarily located in Geneva, with further review of arrangements at COP2.

In summary, the final road map is now in place to ‘zero down’ global mercury pollution, but critical work remains.   ZMWG looks forward to a productive second meeting of the Conference of the Parties, which will be held in Geneva 19-23 November 2018.   



[1] All ZMWG interventions are available on our website http://www.zeromercury.org/index.php?option=com_content&;;view=article&id=309:unenvironment-minamata-mercury-cop1-24-29-september-2017-geneva-switzerland&catid=54:developments-main-category&Itemid=104

Dental amalgam PDF Print
Friday, 30 July 2010 17:02

Dental amalgam contains approximately 50% elemental mercury, 30% silver and 20% other metals such as copper, tin and zinc.

In 2005 approximately 240-300 tonnes of mercury were used as an ingredient in dental amalgam by dentists worldwide.

Some countries are taking a precautionary approach to protect the environment from the harmful effects of mercury and taking measures to reduce the use of mercury in dentistry.

 

Alternatives to mercury dental amalgam exist, such as composites (most common), glass ionomers and copolymers (modified composites). These are all effective alternatives that are generally considered more attractive than traditional amalgam.

 

Most dental practitioners continue to charge less for mercury amalgams than for the alternatives. The speed with which dental amalgams are being replaced varies widely, and mercury use is still significant in most countries.

 

Relevant legislation and advisories and NGO policy work

In the EU

Mercury in dental amalgam was relevant to two actions included in the 2005 EU Mercury Strategy. NGOs followed all relevant developments from 2005 - 2008. 

In 2011 the EU launched a study to carry out a full life-cycle assessment of the mercury us in dentistry- mainly looking at the environmental effects caused. The study is expected to be completed by spring 2012.

Relevant work and follow up by the NGOs can be found here.

The European Parliament resolution on the European Environment & Health Action Plan 2004-2010 - Article 6, declared that, consistent with the “opinion of the relevant Scientific Committee, urgent consideration should be given to restricting the marketing and/or the use of mercury used in dental amalgams

Further to above, a number of countries have put in place measures to reduce or even phase out the use of mercury in the dental sector. In addition to the use of amalgam separators to substantially reduce the amount of mercury discharges through wastewater from dental clinics (combined with appropriate service to maintain the effectiveness of these systems), some countries are also promoting the substitution of mercury-containing amalgam fillings, especially among sensitive populations including pregnant women, children and those with impaired kidney functions.

Denmark and Sweden maybe the only countries that have gone farthest in eliminating the use of mercury-containing amalgam. The Swedish Government’s overall goal to phase out mercury also includes dental amalgam. In Sweden, where dental amalgam has been subject primarily to voluntary phasing out measures, the consumption of mercury for dental use has decreased significantly after a policy decision by the Parliament in 1994 to phase out the use of dental amalgam.

In Denmark, dental amalgam is allowed only in molar teeth where the filling is subject to wear, but the Government is ready to ban the remaining use of dental amalgam as soon as the Danish National Board of Health is satisfied that the non-mercury alternatives are adequate for all requirements.

Norway has also developed a directive (from 1 January 2003) on the use of dental filling materials, which encourages dentists to reduce the use of amalgam as much as possible.

 

Globally

Work is currently being undertaken under the UNEP Mercury partnership area on Mercury in Products.

In the US

In 2006, EPA was developing a dental office amalgam recycling program called its “gray bag” program. This program would assist dentists in properly collecting and managing dental amalgam wastes generated in their offices to minimize mercury releases to air, land, and water. This program also will ensure that dental amalgam is sent to responsible recyclers who would ensure that it does not end up in wastewater streams as well as in municipal and medical waste incinerators.

In the US see also relevant laws and regulations at http://www.epa.gov/hg/regs.htm and at http://www.newmoa.org/prevention/mercury/modelleg.cfm

In New Zealand, a “Practice guideline - controlling dental amalgam waste and wastewater discharges” has been adopted. It recommended that amalgam waste should be collected, stored and sent for recycling, or for disposal at an approved landfill when collection for recycling is not available. Also, amalgam scrap and contaminated particulate amalgam waste should not be disposed of in any medical waste to be incinerated. Dental surgeries should use systems to reduce amalgam discharge to wastewater, including amalgam separators where local authorities require. It has issued precautionary advice for dentists and pregnant women. It recommended that amalgam should be used with informed consent of patients (UNEP, 2002).