Environment Minister Amy Adams has welcomed New Zealand’s signing of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an international treaty to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions of mercury and mercury compounds.
“The Minamata Convention is an important milestone in the control of mercury in the environment,” Ms Adams says.
“The international community has worked together to produce a binding agreement that will help reduce the risk for future generations from increased mercury emissions from industrial processes and trade.”
Mercury is a highly toxic substance, which has serious effects on human health and on the environment. It can cause permanent damage to the nervous system and can also accumulate in the food chain. Consuming food with mercury in it is a major source of exposure to mercury for people and some animals.
The Convention was signed at a special meeting in Japan last night. It was developed under the umbrella of the United Nations Environment Programme and has been four years in negotiation.
It addresses the direct mining of mercury, export and import of the metal, mercury emissions from certain industrial activities, artisanal gold mining that uses mercury, significant releases to land and water, safe storage, contaminated sites and waste mercury. Natural emissions from sources such as geothermal activities are not part of the Convention.
More information on the Minamata Convention on Mercury can be found at: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/laws/meas/negotiations-on-mercury-agreement.html.