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Minamata Convention on Mercury Signed Off

Minamata Convention on Mercury Signed Off

Seems that the world has finally agreed a major step towards reducing mercury usage.

What prompted me to post this story was the surprise mention of thyroid on computer/business site. Various versions of the story are available in many places - newspapers, on-line news, etc.

Global mercury ban to hit electronics, plastics, power prices

Minamata Convention will mean mercury runs away by 2020

By Simon Sharwood, APAC Editor

Posted in Science, 21st January 2013 02:55 GMT

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has signed off on the Minamata Convention, a new global agreement that will ban mercury from most uses by 2020.

UNEP's Mercury: Time to Act book says the substance “damages the central nervous system, thyroid, kidneys, lungs, immune system, eyes, gums and skin” and can result in “Neurological and behavioural disorders … with symptoms including tremors, insomnia, memory loss, neuromuscular effects, headaches, and cognitive and motor dysfunction.”

Mercury mostly enters the human body through food, as it is passed up the food chain to organisms like large fish people enjoy eating.

The Convention's name was chosen for the Japanese city of Minamata, where industrial pollutants led to mercury concentrating in local shellfish. Thousands experienced Mercury poisoning as a result, with over 1,000 deaths.

The Convention will impact Reg readers in many ways. Some fluorescent lamps rely on the element, as do light switches. Button cells are another common application. If PCs and servers still need CMOS batteries by 2020, the button cells you buy will need to be manufactured without mercury (some jurisdictions already have this ban in place, given button cells' prevalence in toys and the likelihood kids can swallow them).

Mercury-rich devices like thermometers and blood pressure meters will have to be replaced. And you can forget about mercury switches in your after-hours electronics projects (and yes, we do know there are better alternatives these days).

<more at link - please do read it all>


9 Replies

Am about to do so, Rod, but before I set about it I have always wondered why they tore our mercury thermometers out of our hands and seized our harmless old barometers from our walls, but insisted we use mercury vapour filled light bulbs and, worse, these have no instructions about what we should do when they break. This is madness - mercury induced?


The mercury thermometers are inded harmless - until broken!

But mercury barometers can allow mercury vapour into the air. Possibly not very important in a well-ventilated room, but we are getting buildings which are better sealed.

And we always need to think of the people involved with making, maintaining and recycling mercury-containing products, here's one example from within the NHS!

And, yes, agreed re lighting. And again, better sealed buildings worsen the problem when one is broken. Hopefully the flush of LED lighting will live uo to its promise and be without severe environmental issues.


I agree with your points. If you really want to lose sleep at night, read this:


Also available on the FDA site:



Thanks! But a mere 5 pages, albeit edited, does not break the bank when printed compared to 78....but the 78 are stuffed with mesmerising information. No wonder thyroid problems are more common than formerly. Professor Weetman should read this.


the stuff is everwhere, but the tradition of putting it in your teeth must be the worst idea ever. J :D


I can wholeheartedly say, mercury in my teeth was the primary cause of my thyroid issues. At 14, I was a healthy, happy, 'normal' teen, until I went to the dentist.

He filled a few teeth and actually killed a nerve in a front tooth, where he eventually gave me a root canal {I have the records to show and have since had replaced} and within 1 month, I was exhibiting neurological symptoms/alleries and fatigue, which after being misdiagnosed several times, turns out to be Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Our poor thyroids are bombarded from all sides. If not by tooth-filling, they get us with the fluoride in the water, tattoo-ink, toxic cleaning products, cosmetics or bloody light-bulbs.

Thanks for this post!


My first contact with mercury was 62 yr. ago when aged 12 we regularly played with mercury when we broke thermometers in the science lab. No one batte

d an eyelid. It was often left on the benches for the next class to play with. I believe mercury is/was in some vaccines.

Then of course there was the asbestos in bunsen burner mats that shed fibres everywhere and the asbestos on my ironing board.

Lead in paints and arsenic in wallpaper and make up.

Oh happy days.


we used to melt lead water pipes and make things out of it too, as well as pouring it into matchbox cars so they'd go faster down the corrugated iron (or asbestos) roof.

I used to do a lot of painting for Dad, good old lead oxide, bitumen & creosote.

Was that red or silver thermometers? Yes mercury is still in vaccines - why? J :D


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