This month no less than 140 countries signed a legally binding agreement to curb their mercury emissions. While mercury is no greenhouse gas, it is a serious problem for both the environment and human health.
To the World Health Organization (WHO) : ” “The inhalation of mercury vapour can produce harmful effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys, and may be fatal. “
It is used in various industrial processes such as small-scale gold mining and is emitted by coal-fired plants. (Guess that makes another reason to stop using it…)
To the BBC :
The Unep assessment said the concentration of mercury in the top 100m of the world’s oceans had doubled over the past century, and estimated that 260 tonnes of the toxic metal had made their way from soil into rivers and lakes.
Another characteristic, it added, was that mercury became more concentrated as it moved up the food chain, reaching its highest levels in predator fish that could be consumed by humans.
Campaign group Zero Mercury Working Group co-coordinator Michael Bender called the global deal a “major accomplishment”, but added: “Yet the instrument is hampered by weak controls on mercury emissions from major sources like coal-fired power plants.”
He said new facilities would not be required to have mercury pollution controls for five years after the treaty came into force, with existing facilities given a decade before they had to begin their control efforts.
Is this a new success for global environmental issues ? It is too early to tell but I’ll keep you posted on that.