The European Environmental Bureau and MPP recently wrote a letter urging the World Health Organization (WHO) to correct inaccuracies, misleading and incorrect statements before finalizing its meeting report. Unfortunately, the draft report’s bias is already being diffused on various pro-amalgam websites, including one from Australia and the other from the USA. Among other things, the letter encourages WHO to correct for the record that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss alternatives to amalgam, and not debate or assert the safety of amalgam, — and instead to highlight opportunities for “phasing down” the amalgam use, as WHO discussed in Stockholm in June.
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.
Today, a Japanese official proposed that the treaty be signed in Minamata, as their Prime Minister proposed earlier. Takeshi Yasuma, of Citizens Against Chemicals Pollution, responded, outlining steps and then concluding that the best way to show respect for Minimata is “…by substantial actions for a strong global treaty that eliminates all human sources of mercury.”
June 9 Update- NGOs made a number of interventions, including ZMWG opening statement; ZMWG-IPEN statement on the treaty framework and waste issues (in response to a Basel Convention document); compliance; monitoring; storage; and mercury reduction in products, processes and ASGM.
June 7 Update- As negotiations start, a global NGO coalition today called on governments to curb mercury pollution worldwide. A ZMWG Exhibition provided information on mercury and our position papers.
June 6 Update- UNEP held a briefing on mercury issues and a WHO-HCWH report was presented on reducing mercury in health care. In the afternoon, the ZMWG organised an NGO training on how to use a LUMEX.
June 3 – The first Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) begins negotiating a mercury treaty next week, funded by the Nordic Council and discussed on YouTube. ZMWG prepared partial concept treaty text, a treaty framework, an ASGM thought starter, and observations on UNEP documents.
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.
A joint research project from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research, Golansk University of Technology, and Swedish Environmental Research Institute have quantified the cost of mercury emissions in their report, Economic Benefits from Decreased Mercury Emissions: Projections for 2020. If current trends of mercury emissions continue, they estimate the worldwide societal damages will be $6.6 billion. On the other hand, if extended emission control and maximum feasible technological reduction are put in place, emissions could drop as much as 60% and save $2.2 billion.
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.
Global NGO’s ask the World Health Organization (WHO) to consider the health and environmental impact from continued use of dental mercury fillings. Because effective global control of mercury releases from dental mercury would be extraordinarily difficult and inordinately expensive, they urge the WHO to recommend the use of viable mercury-free alternatives to all countries. The letter to the WHO was signed by over 70 non-governmental environmental and health organizations from around the world.
Michael Bender, on behalf of Mercury Policy Project and Zero Mercury Working Group, presented at the World Health Organization’s Dental Restoration Materials Meeting. He discussed the role of UNEP Mercury Storage-Supply Partnership in reducing dental mercury exposure worldwide. Bender pointed out that reducing the supply, demand, and trade of mercury is more effective than trying to control releases.
Today, world governments took the first significant steps towards a Legally Binding Treaty to control mercury pollution at a United Nations Environmental Program meeting in Bangkok, Thailand. Their recommendations (summarized in ZMWG Quick Views) now provide countries with a basis to head into the International Negotiating Committee (INC) meetings starting in Stockholm, June 2010. “We look forward to engaging in focused discussions in areas such as supply, trade and storage of surplus mercury where substantial progress can be made,” said Michael Bender, Director of MPP. For more information, see ZMWG’s press release and briefing notes by IISD.
October 19-23, 2009, Bangkok, Thailand
In preparation of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee’s (INC’s) discussion of a global mercury treaty in 2010, the OEWG is holding information sessions on mercury supply, storage, artisanal and small-scale gold mining, products, and wastes. The OEWG will establish timetables and organization of the INC as well as discuss priorities. MPP’s director, on behalf of Zero Mercury Working Group, presented Mercury Storage-Supply Partnership and Related Initiatives at the OEWG.