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Summary of the First Conference of the Parties for the Minamata Convention on Mercury

24th-29th September, Geneva, Switzerland.

The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) closely followed the First Conference of the Parties for the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP1) in Geneva, Switzerland, 24th-29th of September 2017 and intervened as appropriate[1]. We were pleased to see the COP1 reached consensus on pending matters from prior meetings of the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC) which resulted in establishing an effective Convention operational framework for achieving significant mercury reductions.

Our main priorities for COP1 included adoption of forms and guidance that was approved at INC 7, and addressing the issues of reporting, waste thresholds, interim storage guidelines, effectiveness evaluation, and matters for future action, which included the following decisions.

  • Article 3 guidance on identifying mercury stocks, and the forms/instructions for complying with mercury trade consent and related certification requirements;
  • The product and process exemption forms and associated register of exemptions under Article 6 of the Convention; a registrar will be kept by the Secretariat and these will also be available to the public
  • Article 8 (air emissions) guidance on BAT/ BEP, options for existing facility control requirements, preparing emissions inventories, and selection of “relevant sources” within the specified source categories; and
  • The Guidance for preparing the ASGM National Action Plan (NAP) under article 7.

COP1 also saw significant progress concerning various other ZMWG priorities, including :

Reporting:          Forms were adopted for use by Parties to report back on the measures undertaken to meet Convention obligations and on the effectiveness of those measures.  In particular, ZMWG most welcomed the decision for a shorter reporting cycle for supply and trade, reporting per year data on a biennial basis. For other obligations, Parties will report every four years. It was also agreed that each Party will submit its first biennial report by 31 December 2019 and its first full report by December 2021. Parties are also encouraged to submit an electronic form,  and the Secretariat is requested to make the Parties electronic reports available.

Furthermore, it was agreed that Parties would provide access to their data related to mercury emissions, under Article 8. Parties would also provide the rational on how they plan to ensure that facilities responsible for at least 75% of the emissions from a source category are subject to controls.

Waste Thresholds:          COP1 established an intercessional work group to further elaborate on waste thresholds, building on a document introduced by Japan. As recommended by NRDC/ZMWG, the terms of reference for the working group were focused more on determining which mercury wastes warrant thresholds rather than assuming thresholds are appropriate for all wastes. The expert group will identify the types of waste that fall within the categories specified in paragraph 2 of Article 11, provide related information; prioritising the types of waste identified that are most relevant for the establishment of waste thresholds, and identify possible approaches to establishing any needed thresholds for those prioritised waste for consideration at COP2. We were also pleased to see COP1 approving the participation of civil society within the working group, another ZMWG priority.

Interim Storage:                             COP1 requested the Secretariat to undertake further revision of the draft guidelines through input from relevant experts, including technical experts from the Basel Convention and present a revised draft for consideration at COP2. Provisional use of the current draft guidelines is encouraged.

Effectiveness Evaluation:             COP1 adopted a draft road map for establishing arrangements both for providing comparable monitoring data and elements of an effectiveness evaluation framework, as ZMWG had sought.  To that end an ad hoc group of experts was established including 25 experts nominated by the Parties – 5 per region, as well as 10 civil society experts, including NGOs, as observers.

Matters for Future Action (Article 3) - (Article 14):              Several matters were brought up for consideration. Under Article 3, trade in mercury compounds was one of several issued identified for future consideration by the COP. In regards to Article 14 – Capacity building, technical assistance and technology transfer, Parties and other stakeholder were invited to submit relevant information on capacity building, technical assistance and technology transfer for the Secretariat to compile and present at COP2.

Despite progress made, challenges remain, both related to the location and structure of the Minamata Convention Secretariat and the Memorandum of Understanding regarding the financial mechanism of the Convention with the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). The Secretariat will be temporarily located in Geneva, with further review of arrangements at COP2.

In summary, the final road map is now in place to ‘zero down’ global mercury pollution, but critical work remains.   ZMWG looks forward to a productive second meeting of the Conference of the Parties, which will be held in Geneva 19-23 November 2018.   



[1] All ZMWG interventions are available on our website http://www.zeromercury.org/index.php?option=com_content&;;view=article&id=309:unenvironment-minamata-mercury-cop1-24-29-september-2017-geneva-switzerland&catid=54:developments-main-category&Itemid=104

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