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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 EU TO EXPAND PHASE-OUT OF MERCURY MEASURING DEVICES
EU TO EXPAND PHASE-OUT OF MERCURY MEASURING DEVICES PDF Print
Wednesday, 03 October 2012 00:00

EEB LOGO_FINAL_ health care_without_harm_logo  zeromercury logo

 

EU TO EXPAND PHASE-OUT OF MERCURY MEASURING DEVICES

 

03/10/2012, Brussels—Health Care Without Harm(HCWH), the European Environment Bureau(EEB) and the Zero Mercury Working Group today applauded the EU’s decision to take off the market mercury sphygmomanometers and other measuring devices for industrial and professional use starting April 2014[i].

“This is an important step forward that will move the entire European Union quickly toward mercury-free health care,” said Anja Leetz, Executive Director of HCWH Europe.   “The mercury column sphygmomanometer will soon become an historical relic in Europe.”

“Substituting such devices[ii] not only takes 7,6 tons of mercury off the market, ” said Elena  Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator 'Zero Mercury Campaign’ at the EEB, “but in doing so, EU governments send a strong signal that they will likely call for similar measures to be enshrined in the global mercury treaty text that is currently entering the final stages of negotiation.” 

The EU regulation, makes minor exceptions for blood pressure devices already in use in ongoing epidemiological studies and as reference standards in clinical validation studies of mercury-free sphygmomanometers, as well as  for a couple of other instruments.

The regulation also amends the existing 2007 ban on mercury thermometers[iii].  It is based on a clear finding by a European Commission scientific committee that “there is no evidence of adverse effects on patients’ health in clinical settings due to the replacement of mercury containing sphygmomanometers by validated mercury-free alternatives.”[iv]

“By mandating the phase-out of nearly all mercury-based medical devices, the European Union is sending a signal to the rest of the world that mercury-free health care is the future,” said Josh Karliner, International Coordinator for HCWH and co-leader of a joint Global Initiative with the World Health Organization to phase-out mercury-based medical devices around the world.  “One of the objectives of this global initiative—to phase out mercury sphygmomanometers in the European Union—has now been achieved.”

Yet work remains to be done.  “For the regulation to be fully effective, we also need EU measures  to collect and manage in an environmentally safe manner, the 134 tonnes [v] of mercury in devices already present in the market, as highlighted by the EU Chemicals Agency committees’ experts[vi]”said Michael Bender, International Co-coordinator of ZMWG, “Furthermore production of such devices intended for export should be addressed, and the EC needs to urgently investigate the use of mercury in porosimeters since they represent the biggest use of mercury in measuring equipment (5-14 tonnes) - and propose relevant new legislative measures.”

For more information please contact:

 

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator “Zero Mercury Campaign”, European Environmental Bureau, International Co-coordinator Zero Mercury Working Group, 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 , T: +32 2 2891301

Anja Leetz, Executive Director, HCWH Europe,  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   T:+49 6222 76 93 202

Note to the editors

The EU regulation can be found here: (adopted on 19 September 2012)  http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2012:253:0001:0004:EN:PDF

The EU Scientific Committee Report can be found here:  http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/docs/scenihr_o_025.pdf

The WHO-HCWH Global Mercury-Free Healthcare Initiative here:  www.mercuryfreehealthcare.org

The Zero Mercury Working Group here: www.zeromercury.org

Health Care Without Harm here:  www.noharm.org



[ii] Barometers, hygrometers, manometers, sphygmomanometers, strain gauges to be used with plethysmographs, tensiometers, thermometers and other non –electrical thermometric applications, mercury pycnometers, mercury metering devices for determination of the softening point

[iii] And other measuring devices for consumer use.