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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 Mercury in Fish a Global Health Concern: Warrants Immediate United Nations Action
Mercury in Fish a Global Health Concern: Warrants Immediate United Nations Action PDF Print
Tuesday, 10 February 2009 01:00
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February 10, 2009

Pollution Probe and the Canadian Environmental Law Association endorse Canadian
release of report from international coalition

Toronto, ON — In advance of next week’s United Nations meeting to discuss an international treaty on mercury, public interest organizations from across the globe today released a report on the global health hazards created by mercury contamination in fish. The international Zero Mercury Working Group reports that the worldwide health impacts of methylmercury in fish are substantial. They are demanding an effective response from governments and the United Nations.

The Zero Mercury Working group (www.zeromercury.org) is an international coalition of more than 75 public interest non-governmental organizations from around the world formed in 2005. The aim of the group is to continually reduce emissions, demand and supply of mercury, from all sources we can control, with the goal of eliminating mercury in the environment.

“Mercury contamination of fish and mammals is a global public health concern,” said Michael Bender, report co-author and member of the Zero Mercury Working Group. “Our study of fish tested in different locations around the world shows that widely accepted international exposure levels for methylmercury are exceeded, often by wide margins, in each country and area covered.”

According to the report, Mercury in Fish: An Urgent Global Health Concern, the risk is greatest for populations whose per capita fish consumption is high, and in areas where pollution has elevated the average mercury content of fish. In cultures where fish-eating marine mammals are part of the traditional diet, mercury in these animals can add substantially to total dietary exposure. These factors have contributed to substantial methylmercury exposure among the Inuit.

Eating large amounts of fish, or even small amounts of high-mercury content fish can cause mercury poisoning. Of most serious concern are the impacts of mercury on the developing brain, especially when exposure occurs in the womb. Toxic effects on the brain may also occur in adults and children with methylmercury intake above reference levels. Research also suggests that methylmercury exposure increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The impacts on the brain from mercury are well understood and eating fish is the single largest exposure source. However, we also know that fish is a very healthy food choice. Ironically, eating


fish provides excellent nutritional support to healthy brain development. The solution is not for people to stop eating fish. Instead, educational efforts must ensure that people follow fish advisories: they should choose low-mercury fish and limit or avoid those known to have high mercury content. For example, for Inuit it is recommended to eat more sea-run arctic char, which is very low in mercury, and less marine mammals that have been found to have higher mercury levels. Fish advisories are issued by Health Canada. Since fish species and fishing practices vary widely across Canada, provincial governments and many local public health authorities also issue guidance on choosing low-mercury fish.

Education is essential to reduce human exposure to mercury; however, it should not be a substitution for the ultimate goal to reduce mercury concentrations in the environment to the lowest level possible. Mercury contamination from human activities exists on a global scale and calls for a global response. Global reduction and elimination of mercury is necessary to protect human and environmental health. Based on the findings of the report, Pollution Probe and the Canadian Environmental Law Association join our international counterparts in endorsing the recommendations in Mercury in Fish: An Urgent Global Health Concern. We further recommend the following actions in Canada:

  1. The Government of Canada should support the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council in establishing an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for the purpose of negotiating a free-standing legally binding instrument on mercury at the upcoming mid-February meeting in Nairobi.
  2. 2. Canada should demonstrate leadership and ban non-essential uses of mercury in products and processes.

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For More Information, please contact:

Rebecca Spring, Project Manager, Pollution Probe
(416) 926-1907 x23 8, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text5204 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Michael Bender, Mercury Policy Project (802) 223-9000, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text78836 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Kathleen Cooper, Senior Researcher, Canadian Environmental Law Association 705-341-2488 (cell) This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text56242 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The report is available on the websites of:

Mercury Policy Project: www.mercurypolicy.org,

Canadian Environmental Law Association www.cela.ca

Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment www.healthyenvironmentforkids.ca

For more information on fish advisories, please visit:

Health Canada advisory: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/chem-chim/environ/mercur/cons-adv-etud-eng.php

Ontario Ministry of Environment Sport Fishing advisory: http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/guide/

Toronto Public Health fish consumption advisory: http://www.toronto.ca/health/fishandmercury/advice eat fish.htm