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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 Time to pull mercury out of fillings, say Health and Green groups to W.H.O.
Time to pull mercury out of fillings, say Health and Green groups to W.H.O. PDF Print
Monday, 16 November 2009 01:00
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[Geneva, Switzerland, 16th November, 2009] -Today, at an expert meeting on the future use of dental fillings, a letter signed [1] by over 70 non-governmental organisations from around the world was presented, calling on the World Health Organization (WHO) to establish a schedule to phase out the use of dental mercury fillings as soon as possible.

"We strongly urge the WHO to foster the innovative use of mercury-free alternatives in parallel with its commendable goal of bringing affordable dental healthcare to the global population," said Michael Bender of the U.S.-based Mercury Policy Project. "This is entirely consistent with the vast number of similar initiatives going on worldwide to phase out the use of mercury in products and processes."

In their letter, the groups point out that mercury from dental use can drift long distances through the atmosphere and contamination from this dangerous neurotoxin poses a major worldwide threat to both human health and the environment.

They also point out that there are various pathways where mercury from dental amalgams is haphazardly released and where it can be only partially controlled (dental clinics, waste water and sewage sludge, crematoria, cemeteries etc.)

"It is generally accepted that effective global control of these releases would be not only impossible, but also inordinately expensive," said Elena Lymberidi, coordinator of the European Environmental Bureau's Zero Mercury Campaign; "Therefore, over time, the more cost effective solution is that mercury-free fillings become the rule and not the exception to dental treatment."

The WHO recently recognised the fact that world governments have reached a consensus on the need for a legally binding treaty to reduce global mercury exposure. The WHO said that today's meeting is intended to provide information for future biomaterials use, as well as address the different challenges to richer and poorer countries [2].

"There are a growing number of examples where developed countries have dramatically reduced or practically eliminated dental mercury use," said Rico Euripidou of Friends of the Earth, South Africa. "However, we understand the challenges developing countries face in phasing out mercury uses and recognise that an innovative and differentiated approach may be necessary."


For further information please contact:

Michael Bender, Director, Mercury Policy Project, Co-founder of Zero Mercury Working Group: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,
T: +1 802 223 9000, Mob: +1 802.917.4579, www.mercurypolicy.org

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, EEB Zero Mercury Project Coordinator, Co-founder of Zero Mercury Working Group, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ;
T: +32 (0)2 289 1301, Mob: +32 496 532818, www.zeromercury.org

Rico Euripidou, groundwork, Friends of the Earth S. Africa,
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +27 (0) 33 3425662, Mob:+27 (0)835193008, www.groundwork.org.za

About mercury: Mercury is persistent and can be transformed in the environment into methylmercury, its most toxic form, which readily passes through both the placenta and blood-brain barriers. It accumulates in the bodies of humans and wildlife and can become more concentrated as it moves up the food chain, and poses a particular risk to pregnant women and young children who eat contaminated fish.

Editors Notes:

[1]  NGOs letter to WHO http://www.zeromercury.org/UNEPdevelopments/091113NGOsSignonlettert o WHO Dental.pdf

[2]  The WHO's 22nd October 2009 correspondence, recognised that world governments reached a consensus in February 2009 on the need for a global legally binding treaty to significantly reduce global mercury exposure:

.

"...awareness of the environmental implications of mercury has increased markedly over recent years, and mercury is a matter of concern to several countries and international organizations.... Furthermore, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has launched an initiative on avoiding the contamination of the environment from mercury which has implications to the use of dental amalgam in countries...The advantages and disadvantages of these alternatives need to be analyzed in order for WHO to update the knowledge base and give advice to countries in this matter. The intention of the meeting is to provide global guidelines and strategies for the future use of biomaterials and the challenges are different for high-, middle-, and low-income countries."

REFERENCE:

http://www.zeromercury.org/UNEP_developments/1-bender-let.pdf
http://www.zeromercury.org/UNEPdevelopments/Agenda-22oct09.pdf