The "Expedition Mercury" initiative seeks to inform and raise awareness among Peruvians about the impacts of mercury on health and the environment through digital media
October 10 marks the "Day of Action Against Mercury Pollution" on the occasion of Peru's signing of the Minamata Agreement on Mercury in 2013. There are currently 124 member countries that, through the agreement, seek to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic mercury emissions and releases.
This international treaty establishes a roadmap regarding the implementation of measures for the reduction and/or elimination of emissions and releases, sources of supply and trade of mercury, mercury products and processes, regulation of artisanal mining, waste disposal and contaminated sites.
Mercury is considered by the World Health Organization to be one of the 10 chemical substances of greatest concern to public health, as we can all be exposed to this metal to a lesser or greater extent. In Peru, it is still common to find products like fluorescent lamps, glass thermometers, or dental amalgams that contain small amounts of mercury.
The country does not produce mercury, but it is commonly used by artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM), a sector that is highly exposed to the effects of this metal's invisible vapor, which could be avoided with the use of efficient and/or mercury-free technologies.
Pregnant women and children under 5 years old are the most vulnerable group, as they could accumulate mercury in their bodies through the consumption of some large, long-lived, carnivorous fish. This situation is worrying, because the damage to the nervous system, especially in newborns, is irreversible.
An expedition to learn about mercury
Mercury can take many different routes to reach homes; in this situation it is necessary to be informed to prevent and avoid its use. For this reason, the Ministry of the Environment (MINAM) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through the planetGOLD Peru project, have initiated the "Expedition Mercury" awareness campaign. This initiative will take place from October 10 to 30 with the objective of informing and raising awareness about the impacts of mercury on health and the environment within the framework of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
Through digital media, audiovisuals, radio and text messages, artisanal miners, small-scale miners, pregnant women and citizens in general are invited to inform themselves about the dangers of mercury exposure, raise awareness and take action to reduce its impact.
On the landing page www.expedicionmercurio.com you can take a learning tour, which simulates a scientific expedition, on the only liquid metal in its natural state: mercury. Discover data that explains its use in products and industries, how much you can be exposed to, and what consequences it brings. Likewise, information is provided on how the Peruvian government and citizens contribute toward reducing and/or avoiding the use of this metal.
"Expedition Mercury" is promoted by the Ministry of the Environment (MINAM) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the planetGOLD Peru project - an initiative financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The campaign is being developed in partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MINEM), the National Health Institute (INS) and the Regional Energy and Mines Directorates and Managers of Arequipa, Piura, Puno and Madre de Dios.
- According to data from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) only 10% of global mercury emissions to the air are of natural geological origin, 30% are produced by human activities, and 60% are re-emissions of mercury previously deposited in the environment.
- The main source of mercury emission and release in the country is artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM). In light of this, the Peruvian government is working in a multi-sectoral manner to promote formalization and mercury-free technologies.
- The name of the Convention is a tribute to the coastal city of Minamata, Japan, a place that in the 1950s was the location of an industrial disaster that caused serious damage to the health of the population due to mercury contamination.