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22 September 2017

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New treaty effectiveness will depend on adequacy of data to be collected, say NGOs  

Geneva, Switzerland

Prior to the start of the first Conference of Parties (COP1), the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) welcomed the entry into force of the Minamata Convention. 

“While there are alternatives to mercury, there are no alternatives to global cooperation,” said Michael Bender, international ZMWG coordinator. “We applaud the world’s governments for committing to curtail 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.
During the prior negotiations, the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC) approved many of the forms and guidance that the Convention specifies must be adopted at COP 1, which are needed for the swift and smooth launch and running of the Convention.  These include guidance documents on identifying stocks, determining best available technologies and reducing mercury use in small scale gold mining; as well as forms for trade procedures and for exemptions from certain deadlines.

“These INC approvals were achieved by consensus after considerable deliberations, and are ready for approval without further debate,” said Satish Sinha, Toxics Link India.

Among the most critical open issues to be discussed at COP1 are the reporting requirements, which will provide critical information on both the global mercury situation and the effectiveness of the Convention in achieving mercury reductions.   Particularly critical to collect will be data on mercury production and trade, which can change significantly in a short period of time.

 “Countries will not have readily available information about production and trade in bordering countries or within their region, unless there is frequent reporting under the Convention,” said David Lennett, Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council “Many borders between countries are “porous,” and where a significant portion of mercury trade is informal/illegal.   Good data on legal trade flows will enable actions to address illegal trade, all of which has a huge impact on artisanal and small scale gold mining, the largest source of mercury pollution globally.

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

For more information, see:




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

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

For information on reporting, please contact 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 "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For further information, please contact:

*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 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