EU protects citizens from toxic mercury, paves the way for global action

EU protects citizens from toxic mercury, paves the way for global action

Today at the UN headquarters in New York, the European Union has triggered the entry into force of the global treaty aimed at reducing exposure to mercury.

The ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, confirms Europe’s leading role to protect citizens’ health and the environment around the world.

Upon initiative from the EU, the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the new global treaty on mercury was negotiated and concluded in 2013. The EU has one of the most ambitious policies for protection against mercury. However, as 40 to 80 % of mercury deposited in Europe comes from mercury emissions in other parts of the world, strong international action is needed to protect the health of our citizens.

Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs said:The new global treaty on mercury will help protect millions of people all over the world from exposure to this toxic heavy metal. With ratification the EU has delivered the decisive bit and triggered its entry into force. This is a great success of EU green diplomacy. It highlights Europe’s commitment to strong and concerted international action.”

The Minamata Convention, which is named after the location of the worst-ever case of mercury pollution, will not only tighten environmental standards worldwide, but also help create a level playing-field, as all major economies will apply environmental requirements similar to those already in force in the EU.

Pregnant women, infants and children are at particular risk from mercury in the food-chain, and the Convention will bring about significant decreases to their exposure in the long term. For example, by prohibiting the use of dental amalgam for these vulnerable categories.

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