UNEP hails US move to ratify global treaty on mercury pollution

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Nobuteru Ishihara, Minister of Environment, Japan, Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, Ikuo Kabashima, Governor of Kumamoto Prefecture, and Katsuaki Miyamoto, Mayor of Minamata

The United States has given a boost to the legally-binding global treaty on mercury pollution after signing and ratifying it, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The Minamata Convention on Mercury, named after a city in Japan where thousands of people were poisoned by mercury in the mid-20th century, has now been signed by 93 countries, the agency says.

By joining the Convention, says UNEP, the United States has strengthened international efforts to bring down emissions of the toxic heavy metal.

Mercury impacts on the human nervous system, it also impairs thyroid and liver function, causes disturbances to vision, memory loss and cardiovascular problems to name a few.

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining is one of the biggest contributors to mercury pollution, a UNEP global mercury assessment report shows.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, welcomed the move by the United States saying it would "assist in paving the way for a new era on international cooperation on mercury pollution and global efforts to lift a serious health and environmental threat from the lives of people everywhere."

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration:  1’13″

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