Mercury chemical threatening health and the environment

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The use of mercury to extract gold poses health risks to artisanal miners. Photo: IRIN/Kenneth Odiwuor

The world cannot wait any longer to control mercury, according to a UN Special Rapporteur.

Baskut Tuncak, who reports on human rights and toxics, is urging governments to quickly ratify a treaty called the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

The Convention aims to protect human health and the environment from the effects of the toxic element.

Mercury is a major pollutant that can lead to physically debilitating diseases and death, especially for women and children.

The UN Human Rights Office recalled a case in the 1950s in the town of Minamata in Japan, where a large part of the community was poisoned after the dumping of highly toxic, mercury-containing waste into a bay.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury must be ratified by 50 countries to be legally binding.

So far, one year after its creation only seven States have ratified it.

An intergovernmental meeting is taking place in Bangkok on Monday to try to limit the impacts of mercury by 2020.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations.

Duration: 1'10"

 

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