Minamata Convention on mercury completes six years

Minamata Convention on mercury completes six years

The Minamata Convention on Mercury was adopted in Geneva in 2013. It is the world’s first legally binding treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury.

The convention is named after the Japanese city (Minamata) that became the epicenter of Minamata disease in the 1950s.

Minamata disease is a neurological disease caused by severe mercury poisoning. This treaty came into force in 2017. Currently, it has 144 parties and 128 signatories.

India signed the convention in 2014 and ratified it in 2018. However, this ratification was done with the flexibility to allow continued use of mercury-based products and processes involving mercury compounds until 2025.

Requirements in Minamata Convention:

  • Strive to reduce and, where possible, eliminate the use and release of mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.
  • To control the emission of mercury into the air from coal fired power plants and industrial boilers etc.
  • Phase out or reduce the use of mercury in products such as batteries, switches, lights, cosmetics, insecticides, dental amalgam (used to fill cavities).
  • To overcome the problems existing in the supply and trade of mercury;
  • ensuring safe storage and disposal of mercury;
  • To prepare strategies to solve the problem of contaminated mercury sites.

Mercury:

  • Mercury is a naturally occurring element. It is found in air, water and soil.
  • It can have toxic effects on the nervous system, thyroid, liver, lungs, immune system, eyes, gums and skin.
  • It is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the top ten chemicals of major ‘public health concern’.

Source – UNEP

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