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.