UN Special Rapporteur urges closing a loophole in Minamata Convention on Mercury to stop human rights abuses linked to mercury in gold mining
Tuesday, 13 September 2022
Geneva, Switzerland - As many as 15 million men, women and children around the world suffer significant and potentially life-threatening human rights abuses from mercury used in small-scale gold mining, according to a groundbreaking report presented today by Marcos A. Orellana, the UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights.
More funding is needed for contaminated sites from gold mining
Monday, 28 March 2022
Nusa Dua, Indonesia After difficult and tense negotiations, the Fourth Conference of the Parties (COP) of the Minamata Convention on Mercury agreed that parties shall not allow or shall recommend against the use of mercury based dental amalgam in deciduous teeth, children under 15 and pregnant and breast-feeding women.
This ground-breaking decision, proposed by the African region, is an acknowledgement by global governments that mercury based dental amalgam can impact human health despite decades of industry claims that it is safe.
IPEN representative Gilbert Kuepouo said, “This breakthrough decision, is the beginning of the end of dental amalgam use around the world. There is finally official acknowledgement that mercury fillings can have adverse health effects on women and children. Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin, and it cannot be justified any longer to place it in the mouth of women and children. While we don’t have a global phase out date yet, this decision means that a full phase out is just a matter of time.”
In other decisions there was agreement that the last category of compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) and cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL) would be phased out by 2025 as LED alternatives are now widely available.
Gothenburg, Sweden Women in three Latin American countries who rely on fish for protein and live in proximity to gold mining activity have been found to have elevated mercury levels in their bodies, according to a new study, Mercury Exposure of Women in Four Latin American Gold Mining Countries. The study was conducted by the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) together with the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) and analyzed mercury levels in women of child-bearing age who are most sensitive to the toxic effects of mercury. Women in gold mining regions in Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, and Colombia volunteered to be assessed for the study. A cohort of Colombian women in a region that has switched from mercury-based gold extraction to non-mercury methods were included as a control group for comparison and were shown to have low levels of mercury in their bodies.
Hair samples were taken from women of child-bearing age in small-scale gold mining regions and analyzed for total mercury content, indicating their body burden of the highly toxic metal. Mercury is used by small-scale miners to extract gold particles from low-grade ore, and most of the mercury is lost to the environment where it contaminates fish in the local rivers.
This study of mercury levels in women from four Latin American communities is the latest compilation of data in IPEN’s global mercury biomonitoring program. Hair samples were taken from women living in or near the mining towns of Vila Nova, Brazil, El Callao, Venezuela, Íquira, Colombia, and two groups living in Bolvia's Beni river system. The results for the Bolivian women were especially concerning: they had the highest mercury levels in our study, yet have no engagement with mining or contact with mercury and are reliant on a subsistence fish diet.
Customs authorities cautioned from burning confiscated cosmetics containing mercury
Thursday, 18 June 2020
Quezon City, Philippines Non-government organizations have cautioned the customs authorities from burning confiscated skin whitening products tainted with mercury to reduce the harm of mercury pollution to human health and the environment.
Last week, the Bureau of Customs NAIA sent to a pyrolysis disposal facility in Trece Martires City some 1.5 tons of seized imported goods, including 400 kilos of unregistered Goree skin lightening cosmetics that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned in 2017 due to their mercury content.
Newly-issued DOH policy banning dental amalgam draws cheers amid the coronavirus crisis
Friday, 22 May 2020
(Quezon City) A new policy promulgated by the Department of Health (DOH) phasing out dental amalgam, a tooth filling material containing approximately 50% mercury, has received roars of approval from advocacy groups within and outside the Philippines.