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

19-23 November, 2018, Geneva, Switzerland.

The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) closely followed the Second Conference of the Parties for the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP2) in Geneva, Switzerland, 19-23 November 2018, and intervened as appropriate Our main priorities for COP2 were waste thresholds, interim storage guidelines, and effectiveness evaluation. We also closely followed matters for future action, including the review process of annexes A and B; and harmonized custom codes to distinguish mercury-added products.

Waste Thresholds

Decision MC2/2 established a process to develop mercury waste thresholds. As advocated by ZMWG, an expert group will focus its efforts on establishing mercury content thresholds for “waste contaminated with mercury”.  The group will also develop lists of wastes falling under three definitional categories: “consisting of mercury,” “containing mercury” and “contaminated with mercury.”

Effectiveness Evaluation

Decision MC 2/10 amended the effectiveness evaluation roadmap set forth in COP 1, modifying the experts mandate and composition of its membership while agreeing on an outline of work.  The group will review the outcome indicators developed previously as part of the EE framework, and further elaborate on sources of information and baselines for those indicators. It will consider how to integrate monitoring data into the framework. In addition, the group will identify those categories of monitoring data most effective in providing information on global trends, what data could be used to assess the impact on levels and trends of mercury, and data limitations. Importantly, as advocated by ZMWG, the group will also assess the information, identify gaps and outline options to enhance the quality of the information.

Interim storage 

Decision MC 2/6 adopted the interim mercury storage guidelines which included a number of key elements to facilitate environmentally sound management.  We were pleased to see many of the important elements that ZMWG had proposed during the intersessional period are included in the guidelines, including provisions on financial assurances related to closure of the sites.

Releases

Decision MC 2/3 established an intersessional process to identify relevant point source categories of releases of mercury and mercury compound to land and water, including the establishment of a group of technical experts.

Contaminated sites

Decision MC 2/8 invites parties and other stakeholders to submit additional comments and information to complement and further improve the draft guidance, calling in particular for information and comments to make the guidance more practicable.

Review of Annex A and B

No specific decision was taken by the COP to start reviewing annexes A and B. However, a call for relevant information was launched by the Secretariat to prepare for COP3.

This is an important area for ZMWG; given the technological and political developments around the world since Annex A and B were adopted in 2013, we will be seeking to further strengthen the Convention.

HS Codes for mercury-added products

The Decision requests the Secretariat to suggest approaches for modifying customs codes to allow countries to distinguish mercury-added products from those products that do not contain mercury, including approaches for possible harmonization among countries. This is an important success for ZMWG, in support of the Global Mercury Partnership, recognizing the critical need for Parties to identify the production, import and export of mercury-added products to comply with Article 4.

Other issues

Other issues included a request for further information on capacity building, technical assistance and technology transfer; as well as on the SIP; a small modification to the rules of procedure of the Implementation and Compliance Committee; and a decision that the secretariat of the MC will be autonomous and based in Geneva, with special arrangements with the BRS Secretariat. Finally, a new president, David Kapindula (Zambia), was elected for COP 3, along with new Bureau members.

ZMWG looks forward to a productive third meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Geneva 25-29 November 2019.   

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Mercury Added Skin - Lightening Cream campaign PDF Print
Thursday, 15 November 2018 00:00

Mercury-Added Skin-Lightening Creams Campaign

The EEB, in collaboration with ZMWG, has  funding from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) to develop a long term global NGO campaign.  The focus of the campaign is in support of national government efforts to ban the manufacture, import, export and use of mercury-added cosmetics (with mercury content of 1 part per million.) This effort is in line with the Minamata Convention provisions in general support of listed product bans. The campaign started in 2017 and will be continuing until 2020.

In the framework of the project, a ZMWG skin-lightening cream working group has been formed.

The toxic trade of often illegal mercury-added skin-lightening products is a global crisis expected to only worsen with skyrocketing demand, especially in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.i Consistent with other research, the new Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) study indicates that a significant percentage of skin-lightening creams sold worldwide contain dangerous levels of mercury. 

In 2017 and 2018, 338 skin-lightening creams from 22 countries were collected by seventeen of our non-governmental organization (NGO) partners from around the world and tested for mercury. 34 creams (10% of the samples) had mercury concentrations ranging from 93 - 16,353 parts per million (ppm). These levels significantly exceeded not only the legal standard established by countries that regulate these products, but also the provisions set forth in the Minamata Convention disallowing after 2020 the “manufacture, import or export” of cosmetics with a mercury content above 1 ppm.

REPORT - Mercury-Added Skin-Lightening Creams: Available, inexpensive and toxic

Executive Summary - ENFR,  ES

 

See below the creams found to contain more that 1 ppm of mercury

poster1poster2poster3

 

In a separate  exercise, the Mercury Policy Project, the Sierra Club and the European Environmental Bureau purchased skin lighteners from eBay and Amazon websites. The brands purchased included many previously identified as high mercury by New York City, the state of Minnesota, the European Union, Singapore, UAE, the Philippines and many other national governments. Nineteen products had illegal mercury levels, typically more than 10,000 times higher than the legal threshold of 1ppm.

Over 50 civil society groups from more than 20 countries sent letters today to Amazon and eBay, calling on them to stop marketing illegal mercury-based skin lightening creams. In their letters, the groups are calling on Amazon and eBay to among others to ensure the products they sell comply with government regulations, develop and monitor lists of toxic skin lighteners and require prior sale approval for those to be sold.

Letter sent to Amazon 

Letter sent to eBay

Skin-lightening creams on government detention lists, purchased from internet and lab tested

creams1creams2

EEB/ZMWG Press release 15 November 2018

see also releases in the US  and Bangladesh

https://www.sierraclub.org/press-releases/2018/11/groups-tell-amazon-ebay-stop-toxic-trade-keep-toxic-cosmetics-market

 https://www.sierraclub.org/articles/2018/11/call-action-internet-sellers-must-stop-toxic-trade

 https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2018/11/dangerous-levels-mercury-found-skin-creams-purchased-amazon-ebay

Bangladesh PR by ESDO

 

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