The tropical atolls known for their sublime beaches and lush coral reefs are struggling to keep a poison tide at bay: In the small island countries and territories dotting the oceans, mercury from polluting industries has become a public-health crisis.
The solution? Shutting down coal-fired energy and banning the mercury trade.
(Geneva, Switzerland) As delegates to the second Conference of the Parties (COP2) of the Minamata Convention on Mercury negotiated for a week over wording for a range of non-binding guidance, the shocking news that global toxic mercury emissions had surged 20% in 5 years was announced by UNEP.
Dr. Tadesse Amera, Co-Chair for IPEN, said, “IPEN has long warned that we are in the midst of a global mercury crisis and has campaigned for a rapid international response. Now that the Convention is finally law, we are on the brink of a catastrophe. If mercury emissions continue to rise at this rate, we are facing massive intensification of ocean pollution and rapid contamination of global fish stocks. Many big fish species are already too toxic to safely eat, and more species will follow. Women in many small island states rely on fish for dietary protein, and our data shows that, for most of them, their mercury levels are above unsafe exposure levels. If we want to protect these island populations, we must take more action immediately. There is only one sure way to stop this runaway mercury pollution and that is to ban the global mercury trade that feeds small scale gold mining and shut down coal power plants polluting the atmosphere.”
As the week long second meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP 2) kicks off in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday November 19 to 23, 2018, activists under the aegis of World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry have called on countries to end amalgam use in children by 2020.