Chairman Carper Praises U.S. Decision to join United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper  (D-Del), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air, released the following statement praising the United State’s decision to join the United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury:

“The United States has now joined more than 90 countries committed to reducing global mercury pollution.  This is good news that will help improve the health of millions of Americans and billions of people around the world and I welcome the Administration’s leadership on this important issue.  Mercury pollution can lead to devastating adverse health effects, including kidney failure and neurological damage. Pregnant mothers and their unborn children are most at risk because developing brains are the most vulnerable to mercury’s harmful impacts. The United States is already taking the steps needed to adhere to the requirements of this convention by limiting mercury emissions from places like industrial facilities and power plants.  Unfortunately, the mercury emitted in the air or dumped in the waterways in one country ends up in another country’s air, waterways, or seafood.  Fighting mercury pollution is not only a local problem, but a global problem – and that’s why it is so important we join the international community to help all of us reduce mercury pollution.  Taking these common sense steps will help protect our communities, ensure clean air and water for all citizens, and allow us and future generations to lead healthier lives.”

Chairman Carper has led efforts in the Senate to reduce mercury air pollution in this country and find ways to better understand our exposure to mercury pollution.  Earlier this year Chairman Carper, along with Sen. Collins, introduced the “Comprehensive National Mercury Monitoring Act” that would create a comprehensive new program to measure mercury levels across the United States.

The United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury is a legally binding treaty aimed at reducing global mercury emissions and is named after the Japanese city of Minamata, where thousands of people got very ill – and about 2,000 died – from mercury poisoning in the 1950s and 60s because of mercury polluted waters.  The Convention was developed through five years of international negotiations – which concluded on January 19, 2013 when147 governments agreed to the draft convention text. The Convention was formally adopted and opened for signatures on October 10, 2013 in the city of Minamata.  Since then, 92 countries have joined.