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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 EC study opens the way to phasing mercury out of dentistry and button cell batteries
EC study opens the way to phasing mercury out of dentistry and button cell batteries PDF Print
Monday, 23 July 2012 13:25
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Press Release:

 

EC study opens the way to phasing mercury out of dentistry and button cell batteries

[23/7/2012, Brussels, Belgium] — The EEB welcomed a new European Commission study, which recommends phasing out dental amalgam use in the next five years, while improving enforcement of existing EU waste legislation[1].  Likewise, the study also recommended phasing out mercury use in button cell batteries within the two years after legislation is adopted.

“Once again a report has conclusively shown that mercury use must be phased out,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator of EEB’s Zero Mercury Campaign.  “The European Institutions and EU Member States need to therefore take action against mercury use as the report recommends. Effective and affordable alternatives to mercury use in dentistry are available. It is high time that mercury becomes the exception rather than the rule.’

Amalgam’s negative environmental effects are known in the EU and globally, and ultimately, society pays for the uncontrolled release of dental mercury through additional pollution control costs and the health effects associated with mercury pollution.

Sweden has already phased out dental mercury, while Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Italy have all significantly reduced amalgam use[2].  Others, including Germany, Spain, Italy and Austria, either have restrictions or guidance on amalgam in place.

Many EU dentists are already using alternatives to dental mercury like composite and glass ionomer.  As the report explains, “Unlike dental amalgam, mercury-free materials have been the subject of continuous technical improvements in the past years and this trend is expected to continue.” 

The BIOS report noted that mercury-free fillings appear more expensive than amalgam because the negative external costs associated with management of amalgam waste and effluents are not factored into the market price. Michael Bender, director of the US-based Mercury Policy Project pointed out that if they were, then the real price would be different. Referring to the situation in the US he said: “If the cost externalities of amalgam were factored in, the average price of an amalgam would be equal to or approximately 15% higher than that of a composite[3]”. He added that “A similar result could be expected in the EU, because the EU management of amalgam releases and cost difference between composite and amalgam is comparable to that of the U.S.”

In view of both the environmental concerns and the precautionary principle regarding direct health effects from amalgams, the European Environmental Bureau is urging the European Commission and Member States to act immediately to phase out the use of mercury in the dentistry and button cell batteries as quickly as possible.

###

Contacts

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, 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

Michael Bender, Director, Mercury Policy Project; T: +802 917 4579, 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



[1] Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries, Final report prepared for the European Commission – DG ENV, BIO Intelligence Service (2012). http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/mercury/pdf/Final_report_11.07.12.pdf

[2] according to the BIOS study

[3] EEB, MPP, CDC Publication ‘The Real Cost of Dental Mercury’, March 2012