Gambia: NEA Validates Mercury Inventory Report

21 September 2017

The National Environment Agency, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment recently validated Mercury Inventory Report under the development of Minamata Convention at the Baobab Holiday Resort, in Bijilo.

In November 2016, The Gambia government joined the list of countries that ratified Minamata Convention on Mercury, aimed at protecting human health and the environment from anthropogenic mercury pollution.

Mercury is recognised golablly as a substance producing significant adverse neurological and other health effects.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Hon. Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lamin Dibba, said the chemical revolution of the last century has changed lives and contributed greatly to the well-being of humanity.

"We have many reasons to be grateful to the chemical industry worldwide for its contribution in the production of a wide range of chemical products," he declared.

He said without chemicals, it would not have been possible to feed the growing population, to find cures for diseases and to discover new materials that make lives easier, safer and more productive.

Chemicals are now part of daily existence, he said, adding that they contribute in many ways to sustainable development and are beneficial in elevating and maintaining high standard of living of people.

He said either banned or restricted chemicals, mercury has recently been identified globally as a substance producing significant adverse neurological and other health effects, with particular concerns about its harmful effects on unborn children and infants.

The global transport of mercury in the environment was a key reason for global decision and action to address the problem of mercury pollution.

He divulged that the government of The Gambia had joined the list of countries that ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury in November 2016.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a major international initiative in minimising and controlling the harmful effects of mercury pollution on the environment in general.

The objective of the Minamata Convention is to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.

He announced that the Government of The Gambia recognises the importance of sound chemicals management, and as a result, was one of the first signatories to the Convention in 2013, and also among the first fifty countries that have ratified the Convention.

Currently, over 128 countries have signed the Minamata Convention and over 70 countries have already ratified it, he revealed.

For his part, the acting Director of National Environment Agency, Momodou Jamal Suwareh, said between 1953 and 1960, 43 people died and many more were incapacitated by Minamata Convention disease.

He said the tragedy was particularly severe in the fishing industry, because fishing was an important industry, noting that fish is a staple protein food for the human community.

He said mercury and compounds containing mercury are toxic for human and for the environment.

Human activity, particularly since the start of the industrial age, has mobilised mercury, in addition to the one already in circulation naturally.

"Mercury is easily transported by air and water in its gaseous elemental form," he said, adding that mercury has long atmospheric lifetime 6-18 months, hence its characterisation as a global pollutant.

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