January 21, 2013
A global treaty to reduce toxic mercury in the environment has been completed and will be presented to countries for their ratification as part of a worldwide bid to control and reduce ways in which mercury is used, released or emitted. Negotiations on the Minamata Convention on Mercury, named for the Japanese city that suffered severe mercury poisoning in the 1950s, finished in Switzerland on Saturday.
“Everyone in the world stands to benefit from the decisions taken this week in Geneva — in particular, the workers and families of small-scale gold miners, the peoples of the Arctic, and this generation of mothers and babies and the generations to come,” said Achim Steiner, United Nations undersecretary-general and executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, which facilitated the meeting of delegates from 140 member states.
The treaty says that certain mercury-added products, such as batteries, lamps, switches, skin-lightening cosmetics, pesticides and thermometers, may not be manufactured, imported or exported any later than 2020.
Mercury-added dental amalgams are also to be phased out. However, certain mercury-added products are to be exempted from the ban, including those used for military and civil protection, products with no mercury-free alternative, products used in religious or traditional practices, and vaccines containing thimerosal, an ethylmercury preservative. MORE
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