Saturday July 21, 2018

Minamata Convention on Mercury: A Landmark UN Treaty which Aims to Keep Millions Safe from Mercury Poisoning, comes into Effect

So far, 128 countries have signed the treaty and 74 have ratified it

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A woman holds a victim of "Minamata Disease," or mercury poisoning, in Minamata, Japan, in a 1973 photo. The Minamata Convention, a global treaty aimed at curtailing the mining and use of mercury, took effect Wednesday. VOA
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  • A landmark global treaty aimed at keeping millions safe from the horrors of mercury poisoning took effect Wednesday
  • The treaty requires governments to stop mercury mining, continue to cut mercury use in industry and slash emissions
  • Governments that signed the treaty must also meet tough conditions for storing and safely disposing mercury waste

The 2013 Minamata Convention was named for the Japanese bay from which mercury-tainted fish left thousands of people with severe brain damage in 1956. Industrial wastewater had been dumped into the bay for more than 20 years.

So far, 128 countries have signed the treaty and 74 have ratified it.

“The Minamata Convention shows that our global work to protect our planet and its people can continue to bring nations together,” UN environmental chief Erik Solheim said Wednesday. “We did it for the ozone layer and now we’re doing it for mercury, just as we need to do it for climate change.”

ALSO READ: Exploiting Nature, Exploiting Lives – HUL’S Mercury leaching in Kodaikanal

Mercury was commonly used in batteries, fluorescent lights, felt production, thermometers, and barometers. These uses have been phased out. The treaty requires governments to stop mercury mining, continue to cut mercury use in industry and slash emissions.

Mercury is an extremely poisonous metal that never breaks down. Contact with it attacks the nervous system and can cause brain damage, severe emotional problems, coma, and even death. Children are especially at risk.

Mercury forms naturally in the environment but is also man-made for industrial uses.

“There is no safe level of exposure to mercury nor are there cures for mercury poisoning,” the U.N. says.

Governments that signed the treaty must also meet tough conditions for storing and safely disposing mercury waste. (VOA)

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Study: Drinking and Smoking can cause Problems to the Dental Fillings

Failure of Dental fillings in smokers and alcohol drinkers.

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Smoking causes failure of Dental fillings
Smoking causes failure of Dental fillings. Pixabay
  • Indulging in smoking or drinking alcohol may not only damage your teeth but also lead to increased incidences of failure in dental fillings, warned researchers.

The findings, led by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, showed that within two years of the dental procedure, Dental fillings failed more often in patients who drank alcohol, while the overall filling failure rate was higher in men who smoked.

Furthermore, people with a difference in the gene for matrix metalloproteinase (MMP2) — an enzyme found in teeth — were at increased risk of Dental filling failure.

This could be because MMP2 might be able to degrade the bond between the filling and the tooth surface, potentially leading to failure, the researchers said.

The results, published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine, suggest that genetic analysis might help dentists to personalize treatments for their patients, which could lead to improved outcomes.

“A better understanding of individual susceptibility to dental disease and variation in treatment outcomes will allow the dental field to move forward,” said Alexandre Vieira, a researcher from the varsity.

“In the future, genetic information may be used to personalize dental treatments and enhance treatment outcomes,” Vieira added.

For the study, the team from America and Brazil analyzed dental records of 807 patients.
Fillings can fail for a variety of reasons, including re-emergence of the initial tooth decay or the filling becoming detached.

The researchers also examined if newer composite resin Dental fillings are as durable as traditional amalgam fillings, which have been in use for more than 150 years but which contain mercury, a toxic metal.

The researchers found that overall, there were no major differences between patients receiving amalgam or composite Dental fillings in terms of filling failure rates. (IANS)