Total ban of mercury in PH within arm’s reach
by FFE PH News staff
Environment secretary Ramon Paje signed on Thursday the Minamata Convention, binding the Philippines in a move to phase out the use of mercury by 2020.
The Minamata Convention, named after a Japanese city that suffered from health issues after mercury pollution in 1956, is the first global treaty that deals with the total ban of mercury emissions and release.
A five-day conference in Kumamoto prefecture, Japan keeps the signature drive open for the Minamata Convention on Mercury. 130 countries are expected to adopt the measure, which was named in honour of the 2,000 slain by mercury pollution in Japan.
The treaty will take effect after 3 to 4 years and once approved by 50 countries.
Emvironment secretary Ramon Paje. Photo source: PDI
Secretary Paje said the Philippines held a key position in the creation of the Minamata Convention. The United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) commended the country for its programmes against mercury, including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ ban of the metal in small-scale mining. The ban was in line with Executive Order No. 79 issued by President Aquino in July 2012.
The Department of Health is also targetting a mercury-free healthcare by 2016.
Paje said ‘Mercury is highly toxic as it damages the brain, kidneys, lungs, heart and the gastrointestinal tract. The brain may be severely damaged as it may cause tremors, numbness, weakness, motor incoordination and convulsion.
‘The Philippines should learn from the Minamata incident and be more strict in regulating toxic substances and hazardous wastes.’