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A Toxics-Free Future

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In the run-up to the Mercury Treaty's 3rd Conference of the Parties (COP3), which will take place in Switzerland from 25 - 29 November, 2019, IPEN has prepared three informative briefs related to contaminated sites; mercury waste thresholds and definitions; and dental amalgam and gold plating (review of Annex A (mercury-added products) and Annex B (processes using mercury).

These briefs provide information about why IPEN believes guidance on contaminated sites must be adopted at the COP3; why 1 mg/kg for mercury waste thresholds should be the maximum concentration for health and environment protections; and why IPEN suports amendments to Annex A and B of the treaty. 

A small mine on Sumbawa. Miners often dig for ore on land without permission or government permits. Credit...Adam Dean for The New York Times

New York Times - Hidden Cost of Gold

By

CIDAHU, Indonesia — Thousands of children with crippling birth defects. Half a million people poisoned. A toxic chemical found in the food supply. Accusations of a government cover-up and police officers on the take.

This is the legacy of Indonesia’s mercury trade, a business intertwined with the lucrative and illegal production of gold.

This project and report sought to disseminate information about the risks of using mercury, as well as to identify the authorities’ responsibility to comply with international commitments such as the Minamata Convention. More specifically, the project aimed:

Campaign Activities

IPEN Participating Organizations (POs) around the world are carrying out activities related to the Toxics-Free SDGs Campaign. Started in 2018, these activities address themes such as agroecology, chemicals in products, endocrine disrupting chemicals, hazardous chemicals in the lifecycle of electronics, highly hazardous pesticides, lead in paint, women and chemicals, POPs, workplace right-to-know, and / or zero waste issues.

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.”

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