Mercury limits were finally set after 4 years of negotiations. More than 140 nations agreed to an agreement at the Minamata Convention. In fact, this treaty, released on January 19, 2013, set the mercury limits for emissions. “The Minamata Convention was named for a city in Japan where many people were injured or killed. Mercury poisoning is what killed thousands there in Minamata. The agreement requires its signatory nations to phase out the use of mercury in certain types of batteries. They must also phase out certain types of fluorescent lamps, soaps and cosmetics. Finally, all of this must be done by 2020.”
The Minamata agreement “also requires countries to limit emissions of mercury from various facilities. Specifically, they have to limit emissions of mercury from coal-fired power plants, waste incineration, and cement factories. Coal power plants and unregulated gold mining are the world’s two largest sources of mercury emissions and releases into the environment.” Therefore, countries in which small-scale gold mining takes place must also draw up strategies to reduce or eliminate mercury.
Fortunately, the delegates also agreed to “limit mercury amalgam use in dental fillings. They also agreed to phase out the use of the element in medical thermometers and blood pressure devices.”
Unfortunately, the Minamata agreement does allow the continued use of mercury in vaccines.