Reduce Mercury Pollution

Mercury pollution—released from mining, coal combustion, power plants, and other industrial sources—can travel halfway around the world before it enters waterways and the fish we eat. Not only that, mercury is traded globally for use in products and processes, and the fish sold in markets often comes from overseas. For these reasons, toxic mercury now endangers people on every continent. An estimated tens of thousands of American newborns are at risk of impaired motor skills and learning disabilities because their mothers have eaten fish laden with mercury.

Panner mining for mercury in Tanzania Susan Egan Keane

In China, NRDC is partnering with experts and local NGOs to promote more effective mercury air emissions controls; quantify and reduce mercury production from mercury mining and other sources; reduce mercury use in products and industrial processes; and assess mercury use in small-scale gold mining.

We are also working with governments and the United Nations to implement the newly adopted Minamata Convention on Mercury, a global treaty that would reduce the trade, use, and emissions of toxic mercury worldwide once ratified by 50 nations. NRDC has coauthored an essential manual that will help leaders understand the treaty and the steps their countries can take to begin reducing the toll of mercury.

As we collaborate with organizations and governments around the world to develop national action plans for small-scale gold mining, we're also providing training and guidance materials to assist government compliance with the Minamata Convention's small-scale mining provisions. And as an active member of a coalition called the Zero Mercury Working Group, we are pushing for aggressive implementation of the treaty.

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