'Minamata' mercury treaty conference kicks off in Japan

Oct 07, 2013

A UN conference to sign a historic treaty aimed at reining in the use and emission of mercury began Monday in Kumamoto, near Minamata, the site of Japan's worst-ever industrial poisoning.

Delegates from some 140 countries and regions are scheduled to attend the five-day conference in the country's southwest, organisers said.

The comes after a January agreement on details of the world's first legally binding treaty on , a highly toxic metal.

Preparatory meetings kicked off Monday at the venue, the organisers said, while local media said the treaty is likely to be adopted unanimously on Thursday.

The treaty has been named the Minamata Convention on Mercury, in honour of the Japanese city around 2,000 people died and many more were made sick by mercury dumped by a local factory.

Delegates are to visit Minamata on Wednesday to mourn the victims.

The treaty will take effect once ratified by 50 countries—something organisers expect will take three to four years.

Mercury, also known as quicksilver, is found in products ranging from electrical switches, thermometers and light-bulbs, to amalgam dental fillings and even facial creams.

Serious affects the body's immune system and development of the brain and nervous system, posing the greatest risk to foetuses and infants.

The treaty sets a phase-out date of 2020 for a long line of products including , while the text gives governments 15 years to end all mercury mining.

But environmental groups say the treaty falls short in addressing artisanal small-scale gold mining, a major source of large amounts of the heavy metal, which also directly threatens the health of miners.

Explore further: Australia out of step with new climate momentum

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Investigating mercury pollution in Indonesia

Sep 25, 2013

Professor Takanobu Inoue of Toyohashi Tech's Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering has been conducting field surveys of mercury poisoning in Indonesia for over a decade. His findings have serious ...

Talk of treaty ban on mercury concerns scientists

Oct 21, 2011

(AP) -- Scientists are warning officials negotiating a global treaty on mercury that banning the deadly chemical completely would be dangerous for public health because of the chemical's use in vaccines.

Recommended for you

Gold rush an ecological disaster for Peruvian Amazon

41 minutes ago

A lush expanse of Amazon rainforest known as the "Mother of God" is steadily being destroyed in Peru, with the jungle giving way to mercury-filled tailing ponds used to extract the gold hidden underground.

Australia out of step with new climate momentum

2 hours ago

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who rose to power in large part by opposing a tax on greenhouse gas emissions, is finding his country isolated like never before on climate change as the U.S., China ...

Education is key to climate adaptation

17 hours ago

Given that some climate change is already unavoidable—as just confirmed by the new IPCC report—investing in empowerment through universal education should be an essential element in climate change adaptation ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.