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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 Time to end use of mercury-based blood pressure devices
Time to end use of mercury-based blood pressure devices PDF Print
Tuesday, 27 October 2009 01:00
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[BRUSSELS, October 27th , 2009] - European environmental and health organisations today reaffirm their demand for the rapid phase-out of mercury-based blood pressure devices used in clinical settings, and ask the EU act on the findings in a recently published European Commission report. These groups have been campaigning for many years to end the use of dangerous mercury substances in hospitals and other settings.

The report, released by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Consumers, confirms that mercury sphygmomanometers are not necessary in healthcare, routine clinical practice or special cases. The report also finds that mercury-based sphygmomanometers are "not essential" for calibration. Therefore, due to the acute toxic hazard to healthcare workers and chronic hazard to society, these devices have no place in clinical care.

“These findings are a significant step forward”, said Anja Leetz, Executive Director of Health Care Without Harm Europe, “based on this report, the EU should move immediately to mandate the replacement of mercury-based blood pressure devices used for clinical purposes across Europe.”

The report clarified that mercury devices will be required only for validation purposes since all protocols are mercury-based, for the time being. These too should be phased out as soon as alternative standards can be validated.

“With the world’s governments poised to negotiate a global treaty to phase­out mercury, the EU can show global leadership by mandating the substitution of mercury sphygmomanometers with safe, accurate alternatives,” said Elena Lymberidi–Settimo of the European Environmental Bureau.

The groups are now calling on the EU to assist in the development of a new validation protocol based on mercury free blood pressure gauges.


The report can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/health/phrisk/committees/04scenihr/docs/scenihro 025. pdf

About Mercury: Mercury is a potent neurotoxin, a global priority pollutant and a PBT – a persistent bioaccumulative and toxic chemical. Mercury is a neurotoxin, meaning that it damages the central nervous system. Exposure to it can adversely affect the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver. Mercury easily crosses the placenta, passing from mother to unborn child, where it can impair neurological development of the foetus.

About Mercury in Health Care: The breakage of mercury thermometers and blood pressure devices exposes patients and health care workers to environmental hazards, while also contributing to the global burden of mercury. The EU and several non-EU countries have already banned mercury thermometers. Several EU countries as well as more than a dozens states in the U.S. have also already successfully phase-out mercury blood pressure devices. The World Health Organization and HCWH are leading a global initiative to phase-out of mercury-based medical devices globally by 2017.

For further information please contact:

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, EEB Zero Mercury Project Coordinator: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ;
Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1301

Anja Leetz, Executive Director Health Care Without Harm Europe, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Tel: +32 2 289 1043, Mob: +32 484 786 058