Minamata Agreement Mercury

Because of its unique properties, mercury has been used for hundreds of years in different products and processes. Currently, it is mainly used in industrial processes producing chlorine (chlorine-chlorine-alcali plants) or monomer vinyl chloride for the production of vinyl chloride (PVC) and elastomer polyurethane. It is widely used to extract gold from ore in artisanal and small gold mines. It is included in products such as electrical switches (including thermostats), relays, measuring and control devices, energy-efficient fluorescent lamps, batteries and dental clumps. It is also used in laboratories, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, including vaccines as preservatives, paints and jewelry. Mercury is also unintentionally released from certain industrial processes such as coal and heat production, cement production, mining and other metallurgical activities such as the production of ferrous metals and the burning of many types of waste. [4] Mercury has been extracted and used since antiquity. People used it in funeral ceremonies, in the colors of their homes, as tranquilizers, aphrodisiacs and contraceptives, in cosmetics to treat syphilis, to name a few. Alchemists believed that mercury was the component of all the metals that gave them their “Ness metal”. The convention outlines the controls that countries should carry out to protect human health and the environment from mercury and mercury compounds.

These include controls on mercury extraction, mercury production and trade and mercury-containing products, mercury waste disposal and mercury emissions from industrial facilities. Countries that have ratified the convention agree to carry out these checks and are legally required to do so under international law. Exposure to high levels of mercury can cause lasting damage to the brain and kidneys and has been shown to affect a developing fetus, even months after the mother`s exposure. In the aquatic environment, mercury can be converted into methylmercury, a compound that is more toxic in low doses than pure mercury, absorbed by marine life, and then absorbed by humans and other animals that eat seafood. Mercury is a natural element. It can be released into the environment from natural sources such as weathered rocks containing mercury, forest fires, volcanic eruptions or geothermal activities, but also from human activities. It is estimated that 5500 to 8900 tonnes of mercury are currently emitted each year and re-injected into the atmosphere, with most of the reintroduced mercury being considered to be related to human activity, as well as direct releases.

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