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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 Civil society calls on EU decision makers to phase out dental amalgam
Civil society calls on EU decision makers to phase out dental amalgam PDF Print
Tuesday, 29 November 2016 15:30

   


Brussels, 29 November 2016

Civil society calls on EU decision makers to phase out dental amalgam

Europe will imminently decide the fate of dentistry’s most controversial procedure: the use of mercury-based dental fillings, known as amalgam.  It is condemned as a risk for “secondary poisoning” by a European Commission scientific advisory body because it gets into fish that people eat [1]. Furthermore, the Commission’s health advisory committee has recommended a ban on its use in fillings in children and pregnant women [2].

Representatives from the three European institutions, namely the Commission, the Parliament and the Council, will meet on 6 December to discuss the text of the EU regulation on mercury, including its use in dentistry. Europe is the largest amalgam user in the world, and consumer, health and environmental NGOs, as well as many dentists, are calling for a ban.

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo of the European Environment Bureau said:

 “An ambitious regulation is needed to reduce the use of mercury in the EU and phase it out of dentistry. Members of the European Parliament have voted in favour of ending amalgam by 2022 (with special allowances for medical reasons) with a ban sooner for pregnant or breastfeeding women and children.  We agree - over 66% of dental fillings in the EU are now made without mercury and it is now time that this becomes the norm.”

The European Commission has also turned its back on the opinion of the European public.

Marie Grosman, World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, said:

In the public consultation organized by the European Commission, 88% of participating Europeans recommended to phase out amalgam and 12% called for its use to be phased down. Since the Commission sought the vote of the people, why don’t they follow their advice?” 

Dentists once heavily used amalgam, but are abandoning it in droves with several Member States either disallowing its use (i.e. Sweden) or reducing it to less than 5% of all dental fillings (for example, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands). 

Dr Hans-Werner Bertelsen, a dentist from Bremen, Germany, said:

European dentists know the end is near for amalgam.  Alternatives are available, affordable, and effective. It is time for Europe to say good-bye to amalgam, a material clearly inferior to composite or ionomers.”

The environmental impact of dental amalgam is significant, impacting on air, water and land, and being taken up in the fish eaten by Europeans.

 

Philippe Vandendaele of Health Care Without Harm said:

Mercury is globally one of the 10 chemicals of major public health concern, yet the Commission proposes we maintain the status quo. Empirical evidence shows that due to technological changes and dentist training, the cost of mercury-free dentistry is declining, so the price differential continues to shrink.”

 

Indeed, the claim that amalgam is slightly cheaper than alternatives is illusory.

Johanna Hausmann of Women in Europe for a Common Future, added:

When amalgam’s disastrous impact on the environment is factored in, amalgam’s costs are as much as €82 more per filling than composite.  Continuing the use of amalgam does not even make economic sense.” [4]

A growing consensus is that Europe must, at the very least, ban amalgam use for children and pregnant women. 

Genon Jensen, Health & Environmental Alliance (HEAL) said:

We must first protect those most vulnerable to mercury’s neurotoxicity – the developing brains of children, babies, and foetuses.  Several nations, such as Germany, the UK and Poland, have already announced that they don’t use or that dentists should not use amalgam for children or pregnant women.”

Members of the European Parliament Michèle Rivasi (France), Stefan Eck (Germany) and Piernicola Piedicini (Italy) are circulating petitions in four languages to ban amalgam in Europe.  Signatories have already exceeded 17,000 names. 

Notes to the editor

[1] Opinion on Environmental risks and indirect health effects of mercury from dental amalgam (update 2014)pdf(361 KB)

[2] Final opinion on the safety of dental amalgam and alternative dental restoration materials for patients and users (29 April 2015) pdf(794 KB)

[3] European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted on the mercury regulation on 13 October 2016, A8-0313/2016

[4] http://www.mercury-free.org/pressRoom_recentNews/April-2012/New-Economics-Report--The-Real-Costs-of-Dental-Mer.aspx

[5] A Joint NGO letter was sent on the 15 November, to EU Environment ministers, to the EU Health Ministers, and to the European Commission.

[6]The Minamata Convention requires each party to “phase down the use of dental amalgam.” Clearly out of step with the spirit and intent of the Convention, the Commission’s proposal would merely require the use of amalgam separators and encapsulated amalgam and not lead to a reduction in amalgam use.

It’s estimated that Europeans are storing upwards of 1,000 tonnes of mercury in their mouth which will eventually be released to the environment. (EEB-2007 Mercury in dental use :Implications for the European Union, Concord East/West)

[7] Petitions on dental amalgam

https://www.change.org/p/beatrice-lorenzin-stop-al-mercurio-nei-nostri-denti

https://www.change.org/p/jean-claude-juncker-f%C3%BCr-ein-amalgamverbot-in-der-zahnmedizin

https://www.change.org/p/jean-claude-juncker-pour-en-finir-avec-le-mercure-dentaire

https://www.change.org/p/jean-claude-juncker-let-s-ban-mercury-dental-fillings

For more information contact:

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, 0032 (0)2 289 1301, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Philippa Nuttall Jones, EEB Communications Manager, 0032 (0)2 289 1309, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Philippe Vandendaele, Chemicals Policy Advisor, Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe, 0032 (0) 2503 0481, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Aidan Long, Press & Communications Officer, HCWH Europe, 0032 (0) 2503 0481 / 0032 (0)465 100 940, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Diana G. Smith, Communications and Media Adviser, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), 0033 (0)1 55 25 25 84 / 0033 (0)6 33 04 2943, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Johanna Hausmann, WECF Chemicals and Health Project Coordination, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 0049 (0)89 232 3938 19

Chantal Van den Bossche, Coordinator Public Relations & Press WECF, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it