HEAL’s action on mercury

A global mercury treaty must protect health and the environment
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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.

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

Call to European Parliament to phase out dental amalgam
Health and environmental organisations have sent a letter to Environment Attaches and Member State experts on mercury to phase out dental amalgam. The Commission’s proposed regulation updates existing EU law to conform to the Minamata Convention but falls short in several key areas. Read more...

Webinar on mercury and health in the Balkans
As part of HEAL’s work on mercury and health, a webinar took place in November on the emerging public health threat from increasing mercury exposure in the Western Balkans. Read more...

EU and Member States should rapidly ratify the Minamata Convention on mercury An open letter co-signed by HEAL and many other public interest groups urges Commissioners to speed up ratifying the mercury convention, and not let the Better regulation agenda get in the way of the EU’s international commitments. Read more...

The threat of increased mercury exposure in the Western Balkans
A new HEAL briefing looks at the emerging public health threat from increasing mercury exposure in the Western Balkans. The briefing, available in English and Serbian, was launched last month in Belgrade, Serbia as part of an exchange on tackling mercury exposure in these countries. Read more…

Phase out Amalgam use in the EU
The EU is the largest user of dental mercury in the world but no policy to phase out amalgam exists so far. Environment and health NGOs commend specialised attention from the EU Commission to amalgam over the past 5 years but believes it is now time for the EU phase out its use in the EU. Read more…

Dental mercury letter to US Secretary of State
HEAL joined with 60 organisations asksing the US Secretary of State to convince the FDA to conform with the Minamata Convention to reduce dental amalgam use in September. Read more...

Cutting mercury emissions, improving people’s health
A joint position paper by HEAL, EEB, WWF, Greenpeace, Client Earth, AirClim and Change Partnership focuses on the need to cut mercury emissions to improve health and the environment. The current overhaul of EU air policy and the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NEC) is therefore a timely opportunity. Read more…

Governments urged to speed up ratification process of Minamata Convention
The new UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and toxics Baskut Tuncak, has called on governments to expedite the ratification process of the Minamata Convention, on the eve of a key meeting of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury. Read more…

EU consults on new mercury controls

The EU Commission is asking whether the EU should go further than the Minimata convention on mercury in a consultation on the treaty’s implementation. Read more…

New IPEN Mercury Guide
The International POPs Elimination Network IPEN, a global network working towards a toxic-free future has released a new guide to mercury pollution and the Minamata Convention on Mercury. Read more…

Global NGOs welcome WHO support for new Mercury Convention
NGOs welcome the adoption of a new resolution by the WHO’s Executive Board, agreeing to both endorse and lend support for countries to address the health-related aspects of the new Minamata Convention on Mercury. Read more…

Zero Mercury Working Group welcomes new Mercury Convention, calls for its speedy ratification

The Zero Mercury Working Group, an international coalition of over 95 NGOs urges 50 countries to step up and ratify the new Mercury Convention by 2015 - ‘50 by 2015 – Make it Happen!’ Read more…

Fish consumption: which mercury intake is tolerable?

As the EU Food Safety Authority is currently reviewing the acceptable tolerable weekly intake for methyl mercury from fish, HEAL, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and the Zero Mercury Working Group have drawn attention to two reports on new scientific evidence on health effects. Groups call for a full revision of EFSA’s scientific opinion with a stakeholder consultation. Read more…

Mercury exposure linked to diabetes risk

A new study warns that young adults who have higher levels of mercury in their systems may face a 65 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Read more…

Global Mercury treaty to be signed in October

Ten years of efforts by NGOs, governments and UNEP were concluded on 19 January with the agreement of the final text of the Minamata Convention on Mercury. The agreement is scheduled to be signed in Japan in October 2013. Read more...

Global mercury treaty would make Europe’s children brainer

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...

Support EU and global phase-outs of mercury use in dentistry

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...

Tuna presents health risk in school lunches

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!

About HEAL

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

Contact us

Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)
28 Boulevard Charlemagne
B1000 Brussels, Belgium
Phone: +32 2 234 3640
Fax: +32 2 234 3649
E-mail: info@env-health.org
Press: Diana Smith

Direct telephone numbers: HEAL team page.

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