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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

Mercury use in dental amalgam at the EU PDF Print
Sunday, 18 September 2011 15:45

Mercury use in dental amalgam at the EU

Developments 2011 - ongoing

The EU has launched a study in spring 2011, under the revised EU Mercury Strategy,  to carry out a full life-cycle assessment of the mercury use in dentistry.

The report will be mainly focusing on the environmental aspects of the use of mercury in dentistry. Then a small update will be included on health related issues.

The consultant BIO Intelligent Services (BIOS) (France) were awarded the contract to carry out the report. Input had been requested over the summer until September 2011.

The EEB has sent initial input to the study in September 2011. 

The report from BIOS is expected to finish the report around Easter 2012.

A draft report is expected to be published soon. A stakeholder meeting is also expected to take place in March 2012 - the draft report will be presented, stakeholders will give input, and after that the consultant will have to put together the final report.

Developments 2005 - 2008

Political process

 The EU adopted in January 2005 a mercury strategy that identified dental amalgam as an area for concern. In relation to that two actions were proposed:

Action 4. The Commission will review in 2005 Member States’ implementation of Community requirements on the treatment of dental amalgam waste, and will take appropriate steps thereafter to ensure correct application.

Action 6. In the short term the Commission will ask the Medical Devices Expert Group to consider the use of mercury in dental amalgam, and will seek an opinion from the Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks, with a view to considering whether additional regulatory measures are appropriate.

Dental amalgam is considered hazardous waste in EU Directive 91/689/EEC. Therefore, mercury-containing dental amalgam waste should be collected separately and not left to end up in the wastewater. In 2006 DG Environment sent questionnaires to the Member States to verify how they were complying with the hazardous waste directive by using amalgam separators at dental clinics. Some Member states sent responses, found here.

In March 2006, the European Parliament called on the Commission to bring forward a proposal to restrict the use of mercury in dental amalgam by the end of 2007.

The European Commission consequently prepared questions in spring 2007 - DG Environment prepared questions on the environmental impact of the mercury dental amalgam use. DG Enterprise prepared questions on the health impacts of the mercury dental amalgam and their alternatives.

In autumn 2007, both sets of questions prepared by the respective DGs (ENV, ENTR) were sent to DG SANCO (Health and consumer protection).

DG SANCO then sent these questions to the relevant Scientific Committees. http://www.ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/committees_en.html
The questions on environment (DG ENV) were sent to the Scientific Committee on Health and Environment Risks (SCHER);


The questions on health (DG ENTR) were sent to the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR). http://www.ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/docs/scenihr_q_009.pdf

The preliminary opinions of the two committees were published in January 2008 and a public consultation was launched. NGOs and others commented and expressed their concerns on the analysis presented in the two reports.

The EEB/ZMWG response to the SCHER consultation was submitted on 22 February 2008 in the electronic forms provided by the Commission. The full response can be found here.


The NGOs's reaction to the SCENIHR preliminary report can be found here.

In May 2008, the scientific committees published their final opinion. (SCHER opinion, SCHENIHR opinion - Corrigendum: Please note that in the footnote of table 2 (page 27), the MAK-value "0.1μg/m3" has been replaced by "0.1mg/m3" )

No major changes were made in the final reports by SCHER and SCHENIR- regarding the opinion on health and environmental effects by mercury dental amalgams and their alternatives- after the consultation, which led to the NGOs asking for a meeting with the European Commission, DG SANCO. A Stakeholder Dialogue Meeting on Health and Environmental Risk Assessment of Dental Amalgams was held on January 20, 2009.

Several NGOs were represented, including environmental NGOs (EEB), health NGOs (HEAL) and patients’ NGOs - representing patients suffering from mercury from dental amalgam (Mercuriados (ES),"Non au mercure dentaire” (FR)). Representatives from environmental medical academies (EuropeanAcademyfor Environmental Medicine) and scientists of metal allergies (Melisa Medica Foundation) also joined the meeting. From the EC side there were representatives from DG Health and Consumer Protection (SANCO) and DG Environment as well as from the two committees - SCENIHR and SCHER who were involved in the assessment process.

 At the Stakeholder Dialogue Meeting, SCENIHR and SCHER representatives provided stakeholders with information on how they reached their conclusions on the two opinions on dental amalgam (health and environmental aspects). Representatives from the NGOs were concerned that the message that seemed to be conveyed in the two reports is that there is no or very low health and environmental risks associated with mercury dental amalgam overall. SCHENIR and SCHER stated during the meeting that it was never concluded in the assessment that there is no risk for health or the environment from the use of mercury dental amalgams and emphasised that only a screening level risk assessment had been done and not a comprehensive risk assessment. Therefore the conclusions should be seen only within the framework of the limited available data and not as an overall conclusion.

 DG SANCO would write a report from the Stakeholder Dialogue Meeting and pass the report and comments to the newly formed Scientific Committees (around March 2009). The Scientific Committees would consider this report and give comments back to DG SANCO who would pass it to the stakeholders – the NGOs involved in that meeting. This new report was never developed.

For the environment side, whether a more comprehensive risk assessment is to be carried out, this would be a decision for DG ENV to make and they will have to put the resources to it. 


 Other relevant developments

 Given the developments in scientific assessments and policy demands on the widespread use of mercury used in dental amalgam, the EEB, together with HEAL and the Zero Mercury Working Group, organized the conference "Dental Sector as a source of mercury contamination" on the 25 May 2007 in Brussels, as a contribution to engaging more stakeholders in this important debate.

The report from the conference, the presentations and the participant list can be found here

Furthermore Members of the European Parliament asked questions related to the use of mercury in dental amalgam in 2008 to the Commission on mercury dental amalgam. The questions were from Hiltrud Breyer, German Greens which can be found on:


 and from Claude Thurmes, Luxemburg, Greens on:


and from Kathy Sinnott (IND/DEM) to the Commission on:

  A success story is that Mercuriados- ES, made a letter explaining that mercury may have adverse effects, they circulated this letter, it was signed by dentists, and was sent as official statement to authorities, and adopted at regional level (Barcelona, Catalonia). The Official web of the Spanish dentists from one autonomous region of Spain (Catalonia) now says that they recommend not to use dental amalgams, specially (therefore, not only) in pregnant women and children under 14 , due to the mercury they have and that may release and cause a variety of health and environmental hazards. See (although it is in Spanish): http://www.mercuriados.org/index.php?pagina=19  This could be a way to go also in other regions/MS.

Mercury is on the List of Priority substances which should be phased out from EU waters by 2020 under the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC and its daughter directive providing quality standards for water.


 The EC is also addressing the issue under the implementation of the Water Framework Directive . Also under the Water Framework directive, the Member States should submit plans of how they are planning to reach the cessation target for different substances, including mercury.