Three Legged Chair Photo

Ending Mercury Amalgam, A Top Priority of Our Time

Three Legged Chair Photo

A few yards from the towering 39 feet broken leg chair amounting 5.5 tons of timber, symbolizing ?opposition to land mines and cluster bombs?, happened a meeting that deliberated on the processes that would lead to end the use of mercury amalgam come the year 2020.

The Conference of the Parties

The Third Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP3) that commenced in Geneva on November 25 and will run until 29, 2019 brought together high-level stakeholders from all-over the world. The meeting and the deliberations here are meant to discuss the well-being of our planet, including persons who come in contact with mercury during their lifetime.

According to the Minamata Convention, ?mercury is a chemical of global concern owing to its long-range atmospheric transport, its persistence in the environment once anthropogenically introduced, its ability to bioaccumulate in ecosystems and its significant negative effects on human health and the environment? is unmatched.

But it does not end there. The Convention expressly states that mercury produce ?significant adverse neurological and other health effects [?] on infants and unborn children?. With such hazardous and long-term life-threatening impacts, on the 20 February 2009, the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) initiated an ?international action to manage mercury in an efficient, effective and coherent manner?.

Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining and Mercury Contamination

The proceedings of the meeting revealed that Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) is the largest consumer of Mercury. It was reported that the prevalence of the use of mercury is in the developing economies in the global South. In the presented statistics, about 1,200 tons of mercury sediments already emitted on land and water comes from the ASGM sector activities. This is staggeringly shocking.

When listening to the arguments and presentations, even though the different presentations revealed that between 2010 and 2015 most of the mercury emissions were recorded in Asia, West and sub-Saharan African populace is in great danger. According to UNEP?s Global Mercury Assessment for the year 2018, ??Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) accounts for about 70% and up to 80% of the emissions from South America and Sub-Saharan Africa, respectively?.

A report by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, released in 2018, on the Global Trends in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM), shows an increase in numbers of people working in the ASM sector from 6,000,000 in 1993 to 40,500,000 in 2017 worldwide. But the same report also suggests that ?Some sources estimate a much higher number ? up to 100 million ASM operators ? compared to seven million people working in industrial mining?.

Let?s bring this closer, home. A recent mapping activity carried out by the