A new United Nations convention on mercury was finalized in January and is expected to be ratified in October of this year. Major emitters of mercury, such as some mining operations, incineration, non-ferrous mining and smelting, cement and concrete industry, and iron and steel industries are likely already aware of the ways in which they may be affected by the convention but brandowners of imported products containing mercury may not yet be aware that import of the following items containing mercury is likely to be illegal after 2020:
- Batteries, except for button zinc silver oxide batteries and button zinc air batteries with a mercury content less than 2%.
- Switches and relays, with a few exceptions.
- Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) for general lighting purposes that are less than 30 watts with a mercury content exceeding 5 mg per lamp
- Linear fluorescent lamps (LFLs) for general lighting purposes.
- High pressure mercury vapour lamps (HPMV) for general lighting purposes
- Cold cathode fluorescent lamps and external electrode fluorescent lamps (CCFL and EEFL) for electronic displays:
- (a) short length (≤ 500 mm) with mercury content exceeding 3.5mg per lamp
- (b) medium length (> 500 mm and ≤ 1 500 mm) with mercury content exceeding 5 mg per lamp
- (c) long length (> 1 500 mm) with mercury content exceeding 13 mg per lamp
- Cosmetics (with mercury content above 1ppm), including skin lightening soaps and creams, and not including eye area cosmetics where mercury is used as a preservative and no effective and safe substitute preservatives are available
- Pesticides, biocides and topical antiseptics 2020
- Non-electronic measuring devices (with limited exceptions) in the following categories:
- (a) barometers;
- (b) hygrometers;
- (c) manometers;
- (d) thermometers;
- (e) sphygmomanometer
The convention’s approach to restricting mercury emissions from industrial activities will be discussed in a future issue of Gallon Environment Letter.
The advance text of the convention, to be known as the Minamata Convention, can be found at http://www.unep.org/hazardoussubstances/Portals/9/Mercury/Documents/INC5/5_7_e_annex_advance.pdf