International mercury deal reached

Legally binding agreement aims to curb mercury emissions

Photo courtesy of United Nations Environment Program

International negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland, have led to the first global agreement to reduce mercury pollution.

The deal, known as the Minamata Convention (named after the Japanese town that experienced one of the world’s worst cases of mercury poisoning), includes more than 140 countries and was reached after a series of all-night talks regarding the effects of the highly toxic metal on the environment and human health, according to BBC News.

The convention will regulate the supply and trade of mercury, the use of mercury in products and industrial processes, and the reduction of emissions from small-scale gold mining, power plants and metal-production facilities, among other things.

“Everyone in the world stands to benefit … in particular the workers and families of small-scale gold miners, the peoples of the Arctic, and this generation of mothers and babies and the generations to come,” said U.N. Environment Program Executive Director Achim Steiner.