Global health governance in practice: A global agreement on mercury control

This week the United Nationals Environment Programm (UNEP) successfully concluded a series of high-level multilateral negotiations to address the global threat posed to health and the environment by mercury. The text of a legally binding Treaty was finalized this week and is expected to be signed by over over 140 countries.

In summary, the treaty establishes a series of measures to protect human health and the environment, including controls on mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants and industry, as well as the use of mercury in mining. Further, the treaty sets a “phase out” date of 2020 for mercury thermometers and blood pressure measuring devices used in health care.

WHO reports that: “Mercury can produce a range of adverse human health effects, including permanent damage to the nervous system, in particular the developing nervous system. Due to these effects – and also because mercury can be passed from a mother to her unborn child, infants – children and women of child-bearing age are considered vulnerable populations”.

Click here for the press release from the European Commission commenting on the treaty.

Click here for more information on the negotiation processes.Click here for a commentary from WHO.