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New treaty’s entry into force set to curtail global mercury crisis, say NGOs


“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.


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 " 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 A real mouthfull:why mercury amalgams should be banned
A real mouthfull:why mercury amalgams should be banned PDF Print
Sunday, 27 May 2007 01:00

(Brussels, 25 May, 2007) - Leading health and environmental organisations which oppose the use of mercury today released new evidence of the deadly threat to human health and nature that many of us are carrying around in our mouths. Mercury is the main ingredient in dental amalgam, which is still widely used today by many dentists in fillings. The report, “Mercury in Dental Use: Environmental Implications for the European Union”, reveals that mercury amalgam waste from EU countries is a major source of mercury contamination. This affects public health and the environment in Europe and worldwide, since mercury is a global pollutant. For this reason, the NGOs are pressing for mercury dental amalgams to be swiftly phased out.

The report is being released at today’s EU conference on dentistry as a source of mercury contamination. A new fact sheet, “Mercury and Dental Amalgams”, is also being released as part of the “Stay Healthy Stop Mercury” campaign (see links below under ‘Notes for editors’).

“Dental clinics are the biggest source of mercury in wastewater and the second biggest users of mercury in the EU, after the chlor-alkali industry”, said Elena Lymberidi of the Zero Mercury Campaign at the European Environmental Bureau. “The report says dentists are estimated to use some 125 metric tonnes of the metal each year. According to the report, EU citizens are collectively carrying over 1,100 tonnes of mercury around in their mouths which will ultimately be released into the environment.”

The uses of mercury in fillings, and its release, have not yet been adequately controlled at EU level, although there are serious efforts in some EU countries to apply emissions reduction measures. Dental use leads to the widespread dispersal of mercury into the environment in several ways including wastewater from dental clinics and homes, sewage sludge spread on land, solid waste incineration, and cremation. A certain proportion of this mercury becomes ‘bio available’ and further increases the risk to the environment and our health, particularly when we eat fish which have absorbed methylmercury which has been concentrated up through the food chain.

Methylmercury is formed by micro-organisms when mercury circulating in the environment comes into contact with soil and water. Methylmercury is an extremely toxic form of organic mercury that remains in the body for up to a year, and which can damage the development of babies’ brains during pregnancy. “Dental amalgams are contributing to our exposure to methylmercury through the fish in our diet”, said Lisette van Vliet of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL). “This source of contamination is crying out for immediate reduction and eventual elimination.”

Some EU countries, including Sweden and Denmark, have phased out or are restricting mercury in dentistry because of environmental and precautionary health concerns. A Norwegian documentary will be shown at today’s conference which appears to indicate that some dental staff have suffered long-term harm from their occupational exposure to metallic mercury. Countries including

Germany, Austria, Finland and France recommend against its use with pregnant and breastfeeding women, and young children.

In view of both the environmental concerns and the precautionary principle regarding direct health effects from amalgams, the NGOs are urging the European Commission to follow the European Parliament’s request of March 2006 to act immediately to phase out the use of mercury in the dental sector as quickly as possible.

For further information please contact:-

Elena Lymberidi, Project Coordinator, Zero Mercury Campaign:, www.zeromercury.org, www.eeb.org; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1301; Mobile: +32 (0)496 532 818

Lisette van Vliet, Toxic Policy Advisor, Health and Environment Alliance: www.env-health.org; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text93933 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 (0)2 234 3645

Peter Clarke, Press & Publications Officer, EEB: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1309 Notes for editors:-

Mercury in Dental Amalgams

The EU Strategy adopted in January 2005 identified dental amalgam as an area of concern and requested an opinion from the EU Scientific Committee on Health & Environmental Risks to consider whether additional regulatory measures are appropriate. The European Commission consequently prepared questions on dental amalgams (DG ENV prepared questions on the environmental impact, and DG ENTR prepared questions on the health impacts and their alternatives). Both sets of questions were sent to DG SANCO (Health and consumer protection). DG SANCO passed these questions to the relevant Scientific Committees:- http://www.ec.europa.eu/health/phrisk/committees/committeesen.htm

The questions on environment (DG ENV) were sent to the Scientific Committee on Health & Environment Risks (SCHER): http://www.ec.europa.eu/health/phrisk/committees/04scher/docs/scherq050.pdf

The questions on health (DG ENTR) were sent to the Scientific Committee on Emerging & Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR):-


These two Committees will work in parallel over the coming months and publish their assessment in December 2007. In March 2006, the European Parliament asked the Commission to bring forward a proposal to restrict the use of mercury in dental amalgams by the end of 2007. Given these developments in scientific assessments and policy demands on the widespread use of mercury in dental amalgams, EEB, HEAL and the Zero Mercury Working Group are holding a conference entitled " Dental Sector as a source of mercury contamination" on 25 May 2007 in Brussels, as a contribution to engaging more stakeholders in this important debate. The agenda and other details can be found at:- http://www.zeromercury.org/EUdevelopments/070525EEBDentalAmalgamconference.html

Report: “Mercury in Dental Use: Environmental Implications for the European Union”:- http://www.zeromercury.org/EUdevelopments/Maxson%20Dental%2014May2007%20-%20A5colour.pdf

Stay Healthy Stop Mercury campaign: http://www.env-health.org/r/145