World News

Global Treaty Reached on Cutting Mercury Emissions

Delegates from around 140 countries have agreed to adopt a treaty limiting the use of hazardous mercury.

The world's first legally-binding treaty on mercury, reached Saturday after a week of talks in Geneva, Switzerland, aims to reduce global emission levels of the toxic heavy metal, which pose risks to human health and the environment.

In a new report, the U.N. Environment Program found that worldwide, nearly 2,000 tons of mercury are emitted into the air from human activities every year. Much of this toxic substance eventually becomes deposited on vegetation, in the soil, and in oceans, lakes and rivers.

The deputy head of UNEP's Chemical Branch said this week that much human exposure to mercury is through the consumption of contaminated fish.



Mercury affects the brain and nervous system and can cause physical and mental development problems in children. Pregnant women who ingest mercury can pass the toxic effects to their unborn children.

The U.N. Environment Program finds the global demand for mercury is decreasing somewhat, with many developed countries taking measures to reduce mercury use. But it notes mercury use is increasing in developing countries.

FEATURED STORY

Relatives cry as the bodies of their family members, who died in Saturday's earthquake, are prepared for cremation along a river in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 28, 2015.

Multimedia Quake Overwhelms Nepal

VOA's Steve Herman describes the scene in Kathmandu, where quake survivors persevere despite death toll, which now exceeds 4,300 More

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UNOCHA
United Nations
United Nations
Steve Herman
Steve Herman
UNOCHA
United Nations
United Nations
United Nations