World governments today completed the first step towards a mercury treaty, issuing a meeting report and providing the basis for developing treaty text for INC2 in Japan in January 2011, according to ZMWG and press reports. NGOs lauded W.H.O. for supporting mercury reductions. “We applaud W.H.O.’s statement to stop production of skin cosmetics containing mercury, as they are an exposure risk worldwide ,” said MPP director Bender. “We welcome W.H.O’s interest in “phasing down” amalgam, which is reflective of the WHO meeting last fall, and consistent with what NGOs wrote to WHO on.” This may be of interest in the US as FDA decided yesterday to review amalgam risks.
MPP launched a new website — www.mercuryfactsandfish.org — to counter misinformation on ‘mercury facts’ spread by groups claiming to represent consumers – but in reality often representing special interests. “So-called ‘consumer groups’ purporting to provide ‘mercury facts’ are often engaged in doing just the opposite,” said MPP director Bender. The web resource, presented by Dr. Edward Groth III,, offers information, including a guide to mercury leves in seafood to minimize exposure.
A new study finds that tuna accounts for over one-third of total methlymercury exposure from seafood consumption which was a key finding in the April 2010 edition of Environmental Research by Dr. Edward Groth III, an MPP consultant. “Canned tuna is the number one fish consumed in the U.S. today,” said MPP director Bender. “It is also the number one mercury exposure risk.” The study found that two-thirds of the seafood and nine of the 11 most consumed fish are low in mercury, as one can see in this chart. In addition, new research appearing in Biology Letters today “…provides insights into healthier consumption, using “….DNA as a tool to uncover patterns of species-specific bioaccumulation.”
Environmentalists laud proposed Amendment 541 of the ENVI Committee report for providing targeted consumer safety labeling for methylmercury in fish for pregnant women and children in the European Union. Amendment 541 adds labeling of the mercury content in meat from large predatory fish or foodstuffs containing meat from these fish species. The amendment would read: “contains methylmercury- not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, women who might become pregnant, and children” and be added immediately after the list of ingredients. In absence of a list of ingredients, the statement would accompany the name of the food. The first reading vote on this amendment will be held next week.
The Vermont Advisory Committee on Mercury Pollution released a fact sheet today entitled: “Dental Amalgam Fillings: Environmental and Health Facts for Dental Patients.” The fact sheet covers both health and environmental concerns related to amalgam. “Our fact sheet encourages Vermonters to consider alternatives to amalgam that don’t contain mercury, such as composite fillings,” said Michael Bender, former ACMP chair and MMP director in a statement. In its 2010 report, the Advisory Committee recommends that the Legislature consider prohibiting placement of amalgam in pregnant women and children. It also recommends an eventual phase-out of mercury-containing dental amalgam by 2012, due primarily to environmental concerns.
Climate change may be magnifying the mercury content of the polar bears’ diet. A recently study, “Stable Isotope Food-web Analysis and Mercury Biomagnification in Polar Bears” shows that polar bears eat from two distinct food webs, one the ice algae-based web and the other ocean’s phytoplankton-based food web. As climate change shrinks the polar ice, polar bears face increased dependency on their other food source, the mercury-laden marine fish and animals.
Concord, New Hampshire
Green Concord is hosting a post-film discussion panel and screening of The Cove at 7pm, Monday, Dec. 14, at Red River Theatres with MPP and other specialists who will speak about the specific issues in The Cove and be available for questions and answers. After the main viewing, MPP will show a segment of the bonus feature “Mercury Rising” that explores the dangers of mercury contamination as it affects society and the global environment. Mercury Policy Project and GotMercury recently introduced the new Cove-GotMercury mercury-in-fish calculator that allows people to check mercury exposure from fish on-line or from a cell phone based on their weight, fish type and serving size.
New York, NY
The Council of Organizations, a Division of the United Nations Association of the USA, planned a Human Rights Day conference focusing on mercury as a case study from a human rights perspective. MPP’s Director presented “The Global Mercury Crisis Disproportionally Threatens the World’s Most Vulnerable Populations.” Inequities of mercury related illnesses fall disproportionately and most heavily on indigenous and coastal people around the world, especially those who make their living from subsistence fishing – so controlling mercury pollution is a human rights as well as environmental issue. For more information, see MPP’s paper, Seeking Environmental Justice.
At the request of New York State’s Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation, MPP provides expert testimony regarding methods to reduce mercury exposure. MPP stressed the state government’s responsibility to reduce and eliminate mercury uses and releases, and also to take steps to protect its population from mercury exposure risks. Recommendations included to (1) expand risk communication for consumption of high-mercury fish, (2) strengthen mercury phase-out legislation, (3) pass new legislation requiring incentivized collections for mercury thermostats, and (4) establish maximum mercury-content standards for light bulbs.
The U.S. EPA and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry have launched a new campaign to warn children about the dangers of playing with elemental mercury. To reach its intended audience, the video “Don’t Mess with Mercury” is being announced on Twitter and posted to You Tube. Spilt elemental mercury can break into microscopic beads that are invisible to the eye but continue to release odorless toxic vapors. Attempts to vacuum or sweep a mercury spill can create approximately 10 times more hazardous mercury vapors than cleaning it properly.