Pollution : the Convention of Minamata on mercury comes into force

Health 17 August, 2017

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Published the 17.08.2017 at 14h10


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After eight years of negotiation, the international agreement on mercury came into force on Wednesday. The text prepared by the united Nations Program for environment (UNEP) aims to further protect the environment and human health of the metal heavy. The 128 signatory States shall undertake to enforce its provisions within their territory.

The Convention of Minamata on mercury bears the name of the japanese town exhibited during decades of industrial pollutants. Thousands of people have been who have been poisoned by mercury discharges from a factory and have developed disorders of the central nervous system, known as the ” Minamata disease “.

The disappearance of the mines

The Convention made mercury, a ” chemical of global concern “. It aims to reduce the emissions and the diffusion of mercury into the air, water and land, as well as to establish protocols for storage of toxic waste and decontamination of polluted sites.

It also limits the export of mercury and to set the target of the prohibition to manufacture, import or export of mercury containing products by 2020. A lighthouse of this agreement involves the gradual disappearance of the mercury mines within 15 years after its ratification.

An agreement non-binding

The mercury is used to manufacture many items, including PVC. It is found in batteries, batteries, light bulbs, cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. It is also used in gold mines to extract the metal from the ore. Millions of workers – including children – are thus directly exposed to the neurotoxicity of mercury on sites of gold extraction.

The first conference of the signatory countries to be held in Geneva from 24 to 29 September. It will now take the second step : the practical application of the new rules. However, as often, the text is not binding ; it will therefore have to rely on the good will of the States.