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Health and Environment Alliance - Mercury and health

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Mercury and health

Mercury, particularly in the form of methylmercury, can have serious adverse neurodevelopmental impacts - even in relatively low doses.

Mercury compounds cross the placental barrier and can impair foetal development, and cause attention deficit and developmental delays during childhood.

Low doses have also recently been linked with possible harmful effects on the cardiovascular, immune and reproductive systems in adults.

No-one knows the extent of over-exposure to mercury in children and adults in Europe or globally. A recent EU assessment (EU Commission Extended Impact Assessment 2005) suggested that as many as one in 20 people may be affected. The study estimates that between one and 5% of the general population in Europe (three to 15 million people) are over the limit that the EU uses. Even more worrying is the fact that a percentage of this population, notably Mediterranean fishing communities, have levels ten times as high as the recommended norm.

The European Food Safety Authority has recommended that women who are breastfeeding, or who are or might become pregnant, should not “give undue preference to consumption of large predatory fish such as swordfish and tuna”.

The Health and Environment Alliance has contributed extensive policy input into the consultation on the EU Strategy on Mercury, and has worked closely with the global Zero Mercury campaign both at the EU and international level.

- The objective of our "Stay Healthy Stop Mercury" campaign is to raise awareness of the immediate health threats of mercury, and to propose alternatives and solutions for reducing exposure. The campaign itself comprises a series of fact sheets, educational and campaign tools, an illustrative hair testing survey, media advocacy and direct action and lobbying for change by our members and partners across the globe. The ultimate goal would be to achieve a global phase out of mercury in healthcare and a total ban in international trade.


- May & June Mercury and Health Policy Update
Each month HEAL provides a brief overview of what’s going on in EU mercury and health policy, what we’re doing about it, and what you can do too - Have a look here



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Stay Healthy, Stop Mercury


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