Mercury to be addressed by new international treaty

On the eve of a meeting next week under the auspices of the UN Environment Programme to finalize an international convention on mercury, UNEP has published an updated assessment of mercury risks.

Many of the risks are in developing countries, associated with small scale extraction of gold, or associated with burning of coal.  However, some uses of mercury, and the associated proposals for control mechanisms, are relevant to developed countries and manufacturers. The report identifies the following:

  • phase out of compact fluorescent lightbulbs and a push towards alternatives.
  • eventual elimination of mercury in manufacture of PVC plastic.
  • control of mercury emissions from the burning of coal, metals production, and the production of cement.
  • reducing the use of mercury in products and processes, ensuring the sound management of mercury-containing waste, and the clean-up of mercury-contaminated sites.
  • decreasing use of mercury-containing products, decreasing use of processes utilizing mercury, sound waste management, and a structural
  • approach to reducing the use of mercury in artisanal small scale gold mining.

A summary and a link to the full report is available at

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