Ecological Restorations has completed a highly successful awareness-raising and public education project aimed at furthering stakeholder knowledge of the human health and environmental impacts of mercury. This is especially relevant in Ghana where artisanal small-scale gold mining (ASGM) involves mercury use, resulting in the release of many tonnes of mercury to the environment in recent years.
Awareness-raising and Education
DISHA conducted an overall awareness and education campaign to educate local hospital employees and high school science students about the proper handling of mercury. With direct collaboration from local government environmental agencies, a series of trainings and workshops educated individuals about the dangers of mercury, the proper way to handle mercury in case of a spill, and how to reduce mercury use by using alternative equipment. Educational print media was developed and tailored for each of the target audiences.
UNETMAC collected samples from 50 paint containers to test for lead content. Samples were prepared in Uganda and sent to the US for analysis. Out of the eight brands of the paint samples tested, three brands were found to contain significant concentrations of lead. Additionally, 1,000 fact sheets about lead in paint were prepared, produced, and disseminated at a press conference and later at a workshop of the National Environment Management Authority.
In this project, Resource Centre Leskovac sought to understand the level of community knowledge about toxic chemicals in toys, and also tested specific toys for toxic ingredients. Research was therefore done with 150 health workers/parents (with children from 2 -12 years of age) in health institutions in four local communities to determine their awareness. Next, four groups of toys, divided by materials (metal, plastic, wood and rubber) were tested for heavy metals, phthalates and formaldehyde chemicals.
Continuing their work on mercury-related harms, Eco-Sense turned their attention to Veles, a city awash in mercury contamination (and other heavy metals) stemming from a now-defunct zinc smelter. Noting that the Veles smelter is often nicknamed the “Macedonian Chernobyl”, Eco-sense is committed to raising greater awareness in this heavily polluted area.
Waste in municipal landfills in six industrial cities was thoroughly analyzed by the NGO Ruzgar to check for mercury contamination. The results of this exploration showed that medical wastes and fluorescent light bulbs containing mercury are mixed in with other waste. In the case of Sumgait landfill, mercury levels were found to exceed relevant standards due to disposal of mercury-containing waste with municipal waste.
In this project, Ukrainian NGO MAMA-86-Kharkov researched the country situation as regards to mercury (its use, relevant laws, environmental and health hazards, etc.), and shared their findings at a conference they convened: "Chemical education in the context of chemical safety: the problem and prospects." During this conference, the seminar "Problems and prospects for the national implementation of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM)” took place.
As a second phase of their e-waste project, CES in Belarus initiated a pilot program on e-waste management in which battery collection containers were provided throughout Minsk. In conjunction, a media awareness campaign about the environmental effects of improper battery disposal and e-waste featured posters, leaflets, brochures, and a mobile exhibition. Additionally, news media and other NGOs were provided with information to help educate the public, including a series of interviews and information e-newsletters.
Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO) produced and facilitated educational workshops at four schools targeting school children in an effort to draw awareness to the environmental and human health impacts of electronic waste (e-waste) disposal in the community. Dubbed “E-waste Education for the Generation”, the program featured lectures and interactive activities, including the presentation of an animated short produced by Indian NGO Toxics Link. In addition, educational materials were also created and disseminated to the 100 children in attendance.
Through background literature and policy research, as well as extensive interaction and outreach with various regional level stakeholders, Asociación Argentina de Médicos por el Medio Ambiente (AAMMA) produced a comprehensive report about the situation of domestic mercury management. In addition, AAMMA prepared 18 flyers to accompany the document, to facilitate the dissemination of the concepts among the different actors involved.