On Sunday January 13 delegates from more than 130 nations began a final round of negotiations with the intent of creating the world’s first legally binding treaty to reduce mercury emissions. Mercury contamination is a major problem which has serious implications for pregnant women, women of childbearing age and young children. Mercury accumulates in fish and wildlife and goes up the food chain.
According to the U.N. environment program, which is also one of the sponsors of these talks, over the past century ocean based mercury contamination has doubled. The report demonstrates that hundreds of tons of mercury have leaked from the soil into rivers and lakes around the world. High rates of mercury pollution are largely attributable to coal burning, chemical production and small-scale mining, particularly what is known as artisanal gold production.
David Piper of the U.N. Environment Program stated that about 70 countries are involved in artisanal gold mining, putting up to 15 million miners at risk of exposure to mercury, including 3 million women and children. Developing countries are most at risk from mercury contamination.
If successful the treaty will set enforceable limits on the emissions of mercury which account for approximately 30 percent of mercury pollution, There is a good deal of confidence that this treaty will get the support of participants. The almost 900 delegates and dozens of non-governmental organizations have already agreed on a draft text to be used this week for negotiations.
© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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