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>