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Mercury treaty adopts legal framework welcomed by Arctic indigenous peoples

CBC NewsEye on the Arctic
Courtesy Brad Hinton

The Inuit Circumpolar Council says it is pleased with progress made in efforts to reduce global mercury levels.

Early this week, more than 140 countries adopted a global mercury treaty at the United Nations Environment Programme meetings in Geneva, Switzerland.

The treaty includes legally binding and voluntary measures to regulate mercury emissions, the related health aspects and other concerns.

Mercury is a poison released into the air, water and land from small-scale artisanal gold mining, coal-powered plants, and from discarded electronic or consumer products such as thermostats, batteries and paints.

Because mercury concentrates and accumulates in fish and goes up the food chain, it poses the greatest risk of nerve damage to pregnant women, women of child-bearing age and young children.

Over the years in the Arctic, mercury levels have been rising. Inuit consume mercury when they eat country food like beluga and ringed seal.

The council has been pushing for tougher regulations in countries where mercury is coming from.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.