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Press Release

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.

Crematoria PDF Print
Friday, 23 September 2011 15:35

Crematoria

Cremation is increasingly gaining popularity even in societies where religious influence on cremation is not high, due to space limitations for cemeteries. Most of the mercury released during cremation is due to the vaporisation of dental amalgam fillings that contain mercury.

The typical cremation process includes the charging of the coffin and corpse, incineration in the main combustion chamber and, where applicable, final treatment in the afterburning chamber. Most cremation furnaces are fired using oil or natural gas, although some operate on electricity.

Most crematoria around the world still have no controls on emissions, although legislation is increasing because for instance in theNetherlands, the average number of fillings is expected to increase from 3.2 to 5.1 during the period 1995-2020 (OSPAR, 2002). This means that the emissions from cremations in theNetherlandswill double between 2002 and 2020, unless abatement measures are introduced.

In theUK it has been calculated that by 2020 crematoria will be by far the largest single contributor to mercury emissions (just over 25% of theUKmercury emissions to air) unless action is taken (AEA, 2004).

 Relevant legislation and NGO policy work

In the EU

No specific legislation applies at EU level. Individual Member States have adopted national legislation as relevant. More information can be found in the EC Impact assessment report prepared for the EU Mercury Strategy in 2005.

Relevant information can also be found in EEB,EEN, HCWH, Ban Hg WG/MPP publication: "ZERO MERCURY - Key issues and policy recommendations for the EU Strategy on Mercury" [December 2005]

In the UK, industry itself created the Crematoria Abatement Mercury Emissions Organisation (CAMEO) scheme, a crematoria abatement system scheme. This is a burden-sharing scheme where all members pay per cremation, then receive payment per abatement. This scheme also enabled a phased approach which was not in government recommendations with targets: by 2008, 10% of cremations abated, by 2010, 20% and by 2012, 50%.

EEB-HEAL-ZMWG organised a Conference on "Dental Sector as a source of mercury contamination"  May 25, 2007,Brussels, Belgium, which included a presentation fromUK authorities on the voluntary agreement on crematoria which is implemented in the UK.

The Report from the conference 'Dental Sector as a Source of Mercury Contamination', Brussels, 25 May 2007, [October 2007] is also available.

 Globally

 Many NGOs are working on the issue from around the world. Mercury Watchdog in the US is one of them: "We understand that cremation is growing choice for responsible citizens across the United States. As with anything that begins to grow in popularity, so does its impact on the surrounding environment. It has recently been reported by the Environmental Protection Agency that mercury pollution from crematoria reached 6613 lbs in 2005. This site began in response to a request from a local funeral home. They requested a zoning change allowing the addition of cremation equipment. Concerned neighbors began to ask questions that no one could answer. Questions like: Is this safe for my children? How close is too close? Why don’t funeral homes remove dental amalgam and dispose of it separately? Once it enters our environment in the form of vapor, mercury is virtually impossible to recover. We do know that modern filtration equipment can drastically reduce what reaches our environment.  We feel that funeral home operators should do everything within their ability to prevent the introduction of mercury into the environment at the source. At this time, the removal of dental amalgam and stack filtration are viable solutions. "

For more information, see:  http://www.mercurywatchdog.com