Mercury Policy Project

Promoting policies to eliminate mercury use and reduce mercury exposure

United Nations

Updates on progress made under the United Nations programs, including but not limited to the UNEP Global Mercury Programme (UNEP) and associated efforts by the Global Ministerial Environmental Forum and Governing Council to address mercury, its effects, and the need for global solutions to this global problem.  Links provided relate to the UNEP process initiated to deal with the problem and the progress made under the program since MPP started working on UNEP related issues after the turn of the century.

Mercury has been on the UNEP Governing Council’s agenda since 2001. Governments are still failing to agree on global binding actions to solve this persistent problem. The Global Mercury Assessment of December 2002 accepted that mercury is present throughout the world environment, is persistent and is constantly being recycled. It showed that mercury exposure causes major harm to human health, and is highly toxic especially to developing nervous and cardiovascular systems.  In the form of methylmercury it readily crosses the placental and blood-brain barrier making foetuses, children and women of child-bearing age more susceptible to mercury exposure. The assessment underlined the need for global solutions since with long-distance transport, even countries which release little or no mercury and other areas far away from industrial activity, may be contaminated. For example, the Arctic has high mercury levels, although it is far from major release sites.

The developments of the UNEP Governing Council started being followed at the beginning of this campaign.  For a chronological history since 2001, leading up to current developments in 2008, see the Zero Mercury Site.  

Reports

Guidance for Identifying Populations at Risk from Mercury Exposure, June 2008

The Summary of Supply, Trade, and Demand Information on Mercury, November 2006.

UNEP Global Mercury Assessment Report, November 2002.