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22 September 2017

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PRESS RELEASE: 

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:

http://www.mercuryconvention.org

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

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 Turning up the pressure Phasing out mercury measuring devices in hospitals
Turning up the pressure Phasing out mercury measuring devices in hospitals PDF Print
Thursday, 18 June 2009 01:00
eeb_logo health_care_without_harm_logo zeromercury_logo

(Brussels, 18 June 2009) –Leading environmental and health NGOs released a report today [1] at their conference in Brussels clearly demonstrating that the transition to mercury-free measuring devices including sphygmomanometers (sphygmos) [2] in hospitals is technologically and economically feasible. Many hospitals in the EU have already implemented this change since suitable mercury-free alternatives are currently available on the market.

‘Switching to mercury-free sphygmos should not cause any problems in terms of clinical diagnosis and monitoring. In fact it should improve the accuracy of blood pressure measurement in clinical settings,” said Peter Orris, MD, a Professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, a WHO Collaborating Center in Occupational and Environmental Health and speaker at today’s conference. "Continued use of mercury blood pressure devices is unnecessary.”

“Countries such as Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain and Poland have already made the switch,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Zero Mercury Project Coordinator at the EEB. “It should therefore be possible for the rest of the EU.”

The report, “Turning up the pressure: Phasing out mercury sphygmomanometers for professional use,” discusses real-life experiences of European hospitals that use mercury-containing and mercury-free sphygmos and demonstrates beyond any doubt that mercury sphygmos are no longer needed in the healthcare sector, emphasising that the transition is doable today.

Suitable mercury-free blood pressure gauges are validated by professional bodies and are reliable for routine as well as specialised use. Replacing mercury measuring devices with substitutes will help reduce hazardous mercury waste and its potential risks to the natural environment and humans. [3]

Mercury-containing sphygmos have long been considered as the ‘gold standard’ by the medical profession. Nevertheless, the European Commission is in the process of reviewing the availability of reliable safer mercury-free alternatives and if appropriate, will present a legislative proposal to extend restrictions for relevant identified uses by October 2009. [4]

‘It is time that the EU follows the lead of other countries, rather than hiding behind an out of date ‘gold standard’,” said Anja Leetz, Executive Director of HCWH Europe. “Mercury free hospitals are widely found in the US, Argentina, the Philippines and elsewhere around the world. European legislators need to move forward and adapt European law to reality.”

Today’s conference organised by the EEB, ZMWG and HCWHE, “EU Mercury phase out in measuring and control equipment”, contributes to the EU debate towards eliminating mercury in measuring devices, including sphygmos and porosimeters, which measure pore size. For the latter and other devices the European Commission should ensure at the very least, that all mercury used is fully recycled, and further investigate phasing out mercury devices from these sectors as well.


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, +32 496 532818

Anja Leetz, HCWH Europe Executive Director, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 484 786058 Vanessa Bulkacz, EEB Press & Publications Officer: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1309

Editors Notes:

[1]  The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is a federation of over 150 environmental citizens’ organisations based in most EU Member States, most candidate and potential candidate countries as well as in a few neighbouring countries. EEB is the environmental voice of European citizens, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. We want the EU to ensure all people a healthy environment and rich biodiversity.

The Zero Mercury Working Group is an international coalition of more than 80 public interest environmental and health non-governmental organizations from 42 countries from around the world formed in 2005 by the European Environmental Bureau and the Mercury Policy Project. The aim of the group is to strive for ‘Zero’ emissions, demand and supply of mercury, from all sources we can control, eventually eliminating mercury in the environment at EU level and globally.

Health Care Without Harm Europe (HCWH-Europe) is the European branch of an international coalition of hospitals, medical professionals and environmental organisations working to transform the health care sector, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. The coalition has offices in Arlington, Brussels, Buenos Aires and Manila with over 470 members in 52 countries.

The full report can be found here: http://www.eeb.org/publication/2009/SphygReportEEBFinal-A511Jun2009.pdf

[2]  Medical devices which measure blood pressure.

[3]  Mercury is highly toxic, causing damage to the nervous system, and is particularly harmful during the early development phases of children. Mercury can become more concentrated as it is ingested by tiny organisms and moves up the food chain, accumulating in the bodies of humans and wildlife. Mercury travels long distances through the atmosphere, and has contaminated global food supplies at levels that can pose a significant risk to human health. For this reason, the NGOs are pressing for mercury measuring devices to be swiftly phased out. Mercury containing sphygmomanometers are still used in European hospitals and by general practitioners and are therefore a source of mercury release to the environment and also poses a risk to staff and patients health.

For more information on the developments of this directive visit: http://www.zeromercury.org/EUdevelopments/indexMeasuringDevices.html