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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 Mercury ban in teeth of children adn pregnant women, NGOS call for full implementation
Mercury ban in teeth of children adn pregnant women, NGOS call for full implementation PDF Print
Friday, 29 June 2018 15:18

EEB and WAMFD Press Release:

Mercury ban in teeth of children and pregnant women, NGOs call for full implementation

A ban on the use of mercury in the dental fillings of children and pregnant women comes into effect on July 1 and NGOs are calling on European states to implement it fully.

Consumer and environmental groups are calling on EU Member States to require dentists to immediately adhere to a new EU-wide regulation banning placement of mercury dental fillings in children as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that pollutes the environment, gets taken up the food chain and can damage the nervous, renal and cardiovascular systems. This ban aims to protect human health at an early stage of development. Mercury is used heavily in dentistry but it is easily replaceable.
 

“With the ban to protect Europe’s children starting today, we call on Europe’s dentists to adhere to it now,” says Charlie Brown, president of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry.  “21st century dentistry is mercury-free dentistry and Europe’s children deserve nothing less.”


Last year, the European Union adopted a new mercury regulation including a dental amalgam ban for the first teeth of children under the age of 15 and for pregnant and breastfeeding women beginning 1 July 2018. The regulation allows dentists to use dental amalgam in cases where they feel there is a medical need but this should only account for a very small proportion of cases. Dental amalgam is the metallic substance used by dentists to fill gaps in decaying teeth and it is 50% mercury.

The new rules also require Member States to establish a national plan by July 1 2019 to phase down dental amalgam use.  In addition, the regulation requires the European Commission to assess by mid 2020 the feasibility of phasing out dental amalgam use entirely.
 

“The EU decision for a partial amalgam ban for vulnerable populations clearly acknowledges the environmental danger from mercury in dentistry” says Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager “Zero Mercury Campaign” at the European Environment Bureau. “The EC and EU Member States need to ensure that dentists apply the ban straight away, and verify whether the use of exemption is really necessary. EU authorities should further ensure that citizens are made aware of these provisions.”


Given that dental amalgam is 50% mercury, the Minamata Convention on Mercury requires each participating nation to reduce its use.  According to the new EU regulation:
 

“The use of mercury in dental amalgam is the largest use of mercury in the Union and a significant source of pollution.  The use of dental amalgam should therefore be phased down in accordance with the Convention and with national plans based, in particular, upon the measures listed in Part II of Annex A of the Convention. […]  Furthermore, particular preventive health protection measures should be taken for vulnerable members of the population, such as children and pregnant or breastfeeding women.”


The regulation also states that: “The training of dentistry students and dental practitioners on the use of mercury-free alternatives, in particular for vulnerable populations such as children and pregnant or breastfeeding women [… ] can help in reducing the use of mercury.”

Notes to the editor:

EU Regulation 2017/852 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2017 on mercury, and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1102/2008. Official Journal of the European Union L 137/1 (English). 24 May 2017.  https://publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/687ef0ed-4045-11e7-a9b0-01aa75ed71a1/language-en

EEB-WAMFD-Memo on Technical advantages of mercury free dentistry, May 2016

Minamata Convention on Mercury: http://mercuryconvention.org/

 

For more information contact:

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager '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 " target="_blank"> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , www. Zeromercury.org

Ian Carey, Communications Manager, European Environmental Bureau, 0032 (0)2 289 1309,  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 , www.eeb.org

Charlie Brown, Attorney and President, World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, +1 202 544 6333, 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