The Minamata Convention on Mercury is the first global agreement specifically designed to address contamination from a heavy metal. Opened for signature in October 2013, the Convention seeks to address issues related to the use and release of mercury including trade, industrial uses, and major sources of atmospheric emissions and releases of mercury into the environment, as well as long-term storage and disposal of mercury and mercury compounds. Highlights of the Convention include a ban on new mercury mines and the phase-out of existing ones, control measures on air emissions, and regulations for artisanal and small-scale gold mining.
The 50-ratification milestone required for the Minamata Convention on Mercury to enter into force was reached on 18 May 2017. As a result, on 16 August 2017, the Convention became legally binding for all Parties.
As experts in the field of mercury science, BRI researchers were invited by U.S. government officials to participate as a nongovernmental organization (NGO) during the negotiating process of the Convention. The meetings of the International Negotiating Committee (INC) that preceded and have continued since the adoption of the Convention include delegates from more than 140 countries and numerous NGOs interested in reducing mercury pollution. BRI has participated in five of the first seven INC meetings, and each subsequent Conference of Parties (COP).
BRI serves as co-lead of the UN Environment’s Mercury Air Transport and Fate Research partnership area. As a co-lead BRI is assisting with development of a globally coordinated mercury monitoring and observation system. In addition, BRI has partnered with numerous UN agencies, countries and their ministries, IGO's, and NGO's around the world to study mercury exposure to people and the environment, and to help meet goals of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
BRI has partnered with numerous UN agencies, countries and their ministries, IGO's, and NGO's around the world to study mercury exposure to people and the environment, and to help meet goals of the Minamata Convention on Mercury. Learn more about projects in each country by exploring this interactive map, or click on topics below to explore BRI's Minamata Convention projects by subject matter.
Mercury is an ingredient in skin lightening or anti-aging creams used by consumers around the world. In an effort to reduce mercury exposure to humans and the environment, the Minamata Convention on Mercury implements a ban on the manufacture and trade of cosmetics products with mercury concentrations >1 ppm beginning in 2020.
In collaboration with the Zero Mercury Working Group, BRI has developed methodology to test skin ligntening products for mercury, and has collected and tested hundreds of samples from countries across the globe.
BRI's article, A global-scale assessment of fish mercury concentrations and the identification of biological hotspots, was recently published in Science of the Total Environment.
The article presents data on a rapid assessment of fish total mercury (THg) concentrations from 40 different waterbodies in 26 countries, including data from a total of 451 fish of 92 species. The study found that fish THg is positively correlated with body size, trophic level, and latitude of sampling location; however, high THg concentrations observed in a lower trophic level species highlights the importance of biomonitoring across a wide range of trophic levels and characterizing site-specific processes that influence the bioavailability of mercury. The study also provides a model for mercury monitoring in support of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
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