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http://www.euractiv.com/section/energy-environment/news/mercury-poisoning-widespread-as-even-un-delegates-test-positive/

A new study has revealed that mercury pollution is more widespread across the world than previously thought, even among high-level ministers and delegates, as a new UN treaty struggles to get to grips with what experts call “an immediate threat to everyone.”

 

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New Study Reveals Dangerous Mercury Levels among Delegates at Minamata Mercury Convention COP1, with the Highest Levels in Delegates from Small Island Developing States.

Read the Press Release here 

Evidence that the neurotoxic metal mercury poses a global health threat to all was underscored today in a new study analyzing the mercury body burdens among delegates of a global conference of the world’s first mercury treaty. The study detected mercury levels above health alert thresholds in over half of the global policy decision-makers tested at the first Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention.

Researchers concluded that even global policy-makers who are educated about mercury risks are not protected from mercury contamination. The findings revealed mercury in all participants and elevated mercury levels exceeding the US EPA health advisory level of 1 ppm. Levels many times higher were identified in delegates from a number of regions. Mercury, while harmful to adults, causes the greatest damage to the developing nervous systems of fetuses in utero.

Erik Solheim, the UN Environment Executive Director, stopped by IPEN's "Mercury Salon" at the COP1 to get a hair sample taken to be tested for mercury. IPEN had invited all COP1 attendees to come by the IPEN booth to get their hair tested, and to date, 160 meeting participants have given a sample. The samples taken during the meeting will be sent to Biodiversity Research Institute's laboratories for mercury analysis. Results will be complied and reported on at UNEA3.

This follows testing that IPEN previously carried out at the Mercury Treaty INC1 and, more recently, as research for IPEN's Mercury in Women of Childbearing Age in 25 Countries study.

Following the hair sampling, Mr. Solheim met with Minamata Activist and fetal Minamata disease patient Ms. Shinobu Sakamoto. They had a brief discussion and Ms. Sakamoto reiterated her message of "No More Minmatas."

At IPEN's booth at the Minamata Convention's 1st Conference of the Parties, IPEN is taking hair samples from all those interested in testing for mercury levels. The samples will be sent to Biodiversity Research Institute's laboratories for mercury analysis and results will be reported on in the coming months. Some delegates who previously gave hair samples at the Convention's 1st Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee meeting in Sweden in 2010 are interested in getting their hair tested again to see if their levels have changed.

On the first day of the conference, IPEN also tested some skin creams for mercury levels, including creams purchased in Bangladesh, Benin and India. Read more about IPEN's activities at the COP1 here.

 

The 1st Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury will take place from 24 - 29 September in Geneva, Switzerland and many IPENers will be participating.

Amongst other activities, IPEN will conduct hair testing for mercury content at the COP1. All delegates are invited to come by the IPEN booth in Geneva to get their hair tested for mercury. Hair samples will be sent to Biodiversity Research Institute's laboratories for mercury analysis. Results will be complied and reported on at UNEA3.

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