HEAL aims to raise awareness of health and societal hazards of exposure to mercury and the importance of reducing exposure. We place special focus on protecting vulnerable groups and sharing good practice and advocacy tools for increased action and policy change.
HEAL participates in the International POPs Elimination Network and the Zero Mercury Working Group, and uses our Stay Healthy Stop Mercury Campaign to work for a global phase out of mercury uses and trade.
Background Information on Mercury
New scientific evidence shows that even low levels of mercury exposure can have adverse impacts on the development of babies’ brain and nervous systems. Methylmercury has also been linked with possible harmful effects on the cardiovascular, immune and reproductive systems in adults. The most common exposure to this type of mercury comes from eating seafood, because marine life is often exposed to mercury originating from industrial practices (for more information about mercury exposure visit our Stop Mercury site).
The European Union has a Community Strategy to protect human health and the environment from mercury. At international level the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is currently negotiating an international treaty to control and eliminate mercury uses.
HEAL calls on the EU to pursue the strongest possible global mercury treaty, and at EU level to eliminate as much as possible the mercury supply and demand.
Previous News on our policy work
HEAL welcomes a recent scientific assessment published in Environmental Health which highlights how preventing people’s exposure to mercury in the environment could save the European Union (EU) €8-9 billion per year by protecting children’s brain development. Read more...
High quality and cost-effective alternatives to dental amalgam are readily available. HEAL and other organisations believe that dental amalgam use should be phased out and time-tables for such action should be supported at both the EU and global levels. A joint letter was sent to EU member state representatives and dental experts, ahead of a recent EU Commission meeting on dental amalgam. Read the joint letter here...
A US study investigated mercury levels in canned tuna used in school cafeterias. Despite recognised public-health concerns about mercury exposure and awareness of children’s developmental vulnerability, canned tuna remains the largest source of methyl mercury in the US diet. It contributes to 32% of the total and is a major source of mercury exposure for children. This is also the case in many European countries, with some countries consuming even more tuna than in the US. Read more …
Global Mercury treaty: it’s time for action on health
In early July, the European Union, Canada, USA and other high income countries opposed a separate health provision during the fourth (of five) negotiating meetings for a global mercury treaty in Uruguay. Latin American countries had proposed a separate article calling for health programs to identify and protect populations at risk, through the development and implementation of health-based guidelines to reduce mercury exposure. The global Mercury Convention is anticipated to be finally agreed in January 2013 at the fifth negotiation session in Geneva. Learn more …
EU Environment ministers urged to phase out dental amalgam
Four EU-wide public interest organisations and networks have written a letter to all 27 EU Environment Ministers to urge the phase out of dental amalgam use both at EU and at global levels. The letter notes that ultimately, society pays for the uncontrolled releases of dental mercury in pollution control, loss of common resources, and the health effects from mercury contamination. Learn more...
Previous Actions taken
Call for experts on the safety of the use of dental amalgam and its substitutes
The European Commission’s independent Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) is looking for experts for its working group on the environmental risks and indirect health effects of mercury in dental amalgam. HEAL recently published an article on the widening call for phasing out of dental amalgam too. The deadline is 10 October 2012. Learn more and submit opinions here – Act now!