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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 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
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(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_text12499 ); 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):-

http://www.ec.europa.eu/health/phrisk/committees/04scenihr/docs/scenihrq009.pdf

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