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New treaty’s entry into force set to curtail global mercury crisis, say NGOs

BRUSSELS - 16 AUGUST 2017
TODAY’S ENTRY INTO FORCE OF THE MINAMATA CONVENTION ESTABLISHES THE FIRST NEW MULTILATERAL ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENT IN OVER A DECADE.  THE ZERO MERCURY WORKING GROUP* HAS BEEN CALLING FOR A LEGALLY BINDING TREATY FOR OVER A DECADE AND WELCOMES THE NEW PROTOCOL.

“While there are alternatives to mercury, there are no alternatives to global cooperation,” said Michael Bender, coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group. “Mercury respects no boundaries and exposes people everywhere”
“Only a global pact can curtail this dangerous neurotoxin.”

In October 2013 the convention text was adopted and signed by 128 countries, but would not take legal effect until at least 50 countries had ratified it formally.  This milestone was reached in May of this year, and the convention enters into force today 16 August. 

“We are now on the right track,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager, European Environmental Bureau and ZMWG co- coordinator. 

“Over time, the Convention is expected to provide the necessary technical and financial resources to reduce the risk of exposure to mercury worldwide. Governments must therefore move swiftly towards efficient implementation of the Treaty’s provisions”.

The aim of the Convention is "to protect the human health and the environment” from mercury releases.

The treaty holds critical obligations for Parties to ban new primary mercury mines while phasing out existing ones and also includes a ban on many common products and processes using mercury, measures to control releases, and a requirement for national plans to reduce mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.  In addition, it seeks to reduce trade, promote sound storage of mercury and its disposal, address contaminated sites and reduce exposure from this dangerous neurotoxin.

The First Conference of the Parties will take place from 24 to 29 September 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.  Over 1,000 delegates and around 50 ministers are expected to assemble in Geneva to celebrate and lay the groundwork for the treaty’s overall effectiveness.

The Minamata Convention joins 3 other UN conventions seeking to reduce impacts from chemicals and waste – the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

ENDS 

For more information, see:

http://www.mercuryconvention.org/Negotiations/COP1/tabid/5544/language/en-US/Default.aspx

www.zeromercury.org

Contacts 

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 "> 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 "> 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

Notes to the editors:

Mercury is a global pollutant that travels long distances. Its most toxic form – methylmercury - accumulates in large predatory fish and is taken up in our bodies through eating fish, with the worst impacts on babies in utero and small children. 

*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.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe's largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. Our experts work on climate change, biodiversity, circular economy, air, water, soil, chemical pollution, as well as policies on industry, energy, agriculture, product design and waste prevention. We are also active on overarching issues as sustainable development, good governance, participatory democracy and the rule of law in Europe and beyond.

We have over 140 members in over 30 countries.

EC register for interest representatives: Identification number 06798511314-27
International non-profit association - Association internationale sans but lucratif (AISBL)

 
Home Press Releases EU health scientists recommend dental amalgam alternatives to reduce mercury pollution
EU health scientists recommend dental amalgam alternatives to reduce mercury pollution PDF Print
Monday, 22 September 2014 01:11
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EU health scientists recommend dental amalgam alternatives to reduce mercury pollution

[12 September 2014, Brussels]  For the first time, the European Commission’s scientific committee on health has recommended mercury-free alternatives in place of dental amalgam for children’s primary teeth and in pregnant patients. EU and international NGOs [1] welcomed this and called on decision-makers to develop an EU plan to phase-out amalgam with a deadline, particularly for sensitive populations.

“Several studies (see endnotes section) show that it is now time to phase out mercury use in dentistry, for at least pregnant women and children, but also for adults” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager, Zero Mercury Campaign at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB).  “The European Commission must prepare measures for phase out when preparing dental-related legislative proposals to be included in the “Minamata ratification package”[2], and go for options beyond what the treaty calls for.”

The key finding in the preliminary opinion from the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR), are in line with the Minamata Convention and the general aim to reduce mercury use within the European Union:“…for primary teeth, and in pregnant patients, alternative materials to amalgam should be the first choice.”[3]

Many EU countries – including Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, among others – have virtually phased out amalgam use, indicating that the alternatives are more than adequate.

Dr. Bent Christiansen, a dentist from Denmark’s Jutland, said “Amalgam alternatives are now used in the overwhelming majority of cases.  From a dentist’s perspective, the alternatives are plainly superior to amalgam, which requires invasive removal of good tooth matter.  By contrast, alternatives are minimally invasive.”

While the SCENIHR has now given more attention to the rising threat of dental mercury pollution, concerns remain that SCENIHR is still not adequately addressing the health concerns scientists have about mercury in amalgam.[4]

Mercury is a highly neurotoxic product which can cause brain damage to children and foetuses.  Dental amalgam is about 50% mercury. 

ENDS

 [1] The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe’s largest federation of environmental citizens’ organisations. It is the environmental voice of European citizens, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. Our aim is to ensure the EU secures a healthy environment and rich biodiversity for all.  For more information, see:  http://www.zeromercury.org/.

The World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry (WAMFD) is a coalition of NGOs dedicated to ending dental mercury pollution.  We work with NGOs, dentists, and dental patients on six continents and throughout the EU Member States.  For more information, see:  http://www.toxicteeth.org/.

The Mercury Policy Project (MPP) works to promote policies to eliminate mercury uses, reduce the export and trafficking of mercury, and significantly reduce mercury exposures at the local, national, and international levels. We strive to work harmoniously with other groups and individuals who have similar goals and interests.  For more information, see:  http://mercurypolicy.org/.

 [2] http://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/MinamataConvention

[3] SCENIHR, page 71

[4] http://braindrain.dk/2014/09/mercury-fillings/

Background reading:

Contacts

-Margherita Tolotto, Project Support Officer ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, T: +32 2 2891308, 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

-Attorney Edith Bon, European Union Counsel, World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry,

T: +33 (0)1 45 26 32 46 or +33 (0)6 87 04 11 31, 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  

 -Alison Abrahams, EEB Communications Officer at 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 +32 (0) 2289 13 09 or +32 (0) 489 304 962

 URL: http://www.eeb.org/EEB/?LinkServID=F5F34E51-5056-B741-DB49ECAEF5C63DA9