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International mercury negotiations begin in Stockholm

From June 7-11, 2010, International Governments met in Stockholm, Sweden to begin negotiations for a global, legally-binding method to limit mercury usage. This marked the beginning of 3 years of negotiations for a UN treaty - due to be adopted in 2013.

Civil society was represented by approximately 55 NGOs from 29 countries which included IPEN member, health sector and anti-dental amalgam groups, and Indigenous Peoples’ organisations.

The Conference took decisions on rules of procedure, the selection of officers and a Bureau. The delegates commented on issues outlined in the 2009 UNEP Governing Council Decision 25/5, which establishes the mandate of the INC and outlines the goals and elements of the treaty, such as supply; storage; use in products and processes; artisanal small scale gold mining; trade; atmospheric emissions; waste and contaminated sites; and compliance .

NGOs conducted two awareness raising actions at the Stockholm Mercury INC. Member groups of the International Persistent Organic Pollutant Elimination Network (IPEN) and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation did a sampling of mercury in the hair of 45 government delegates and some other representatives. The survey found mercury in all of the 58 hair test participants, and more than one third of samples exceeded the US National Research Council reference dose to avoid adverse effects on fetal brain development in pregnant women. Average mercury levels in people from developing and transition countries, where many people rely on fish for food, were twice the levels measured in delegates from developed countries. IPEN member groups also distributed over 200 perch-pike snacks to delegates, along with a postcard noting that Swedish perch-pike is so contaminated with mercury that the Swedish National Food Administration recommends eating it only two - three times per year for women who are trying to conceive a baby, are pregnant, or breastfeeding.

The press release and report on the hair sampling.



Written on 30 June 2010.

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