9 January 2013

Africa: Press Conference - UN Launches Key Research On Mercury Emissions Ahead of UN-Led International Mercury Negotiations

Photo: Tommy Trenchard/IRIN
Artisanal diamond miners at work in an open-pit mine in Koidu.

press release

Communities in developing countries are facing increasing health and environmental risks linked to exposure to the heavy metal mercury, according to new studies released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Much human exposure to mercury is through the consumption of fish and other marine foods, making aquatic pathways the critical link to human health.

Mercury in aquatic environments can be transformed into methylmercury, which is far more toxic to humans and animals than other forms of mercury.

Mercury: Time to Act and The Global Mercury Assessment reports will be released days in advance of a major United Nations meeting on mercury, where governments will conclude discussions on a new, globally-binding treaty.

The publications, which offer new findings and insights on mercury, are designed to inform governments ahead of the fifth and final session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on mercury (INC5), to be held in Geneva on 13-18 January 2013.

If a new treaty is successfully negotiated, it could support a reduction of global mercury demand by 2015.

Governments gave the green light to negotiations of a global treaty at the UNEP Governing Council held in Nairobi, Kenya in February 2009.

When:  Thursday 10 January 2013, 10:00 am

Where:  Fairmont The Norfolk, North Ballroom

Who:  Achim Steiner , UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director.

Ali D. Mohamed, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources.

World Health Organization (WHO) representative

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