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Way open towards strengthening the EU Mercury Regulation

Date

12 Jan 2024

Sections

Energy
Climate & Environment

Yesterday, the Environment Committee (ENVI) of the European Parliament set the pace by adopting the Commission’s proposal to ban dental amalgam as early as 1 January 2025.  

We congratulate the Committee on its forward-looking approach; mercury is a well-known global pollutant and a severe neurotoxin, which can cause environmental harm and severely affect people’s health. Diffuse pollution remains a problem in Europe because of both historical and current emissions of mercury to the atmosphere. Mercury levels measured in biota continue to exceed environmental quality standards in almost all surface water bodies.  

This was part of the vote on the revisions to the July 2023 EU Mercury regulation proposal.  

Charline Cheuvard , EEB Mercury Policy Officer said:

“The ENVI opens the way towards ending the “amalgam era” very soon. This is a long-awaited major step forward and we call on the European Parliament now to follow this line next Wednesday.”   

Complementary to the amalgam ban, ENVI requested that the European Commission reports on the reduction of mercury emissions from crematoria and that guidelines are developed on abatement technologies. 

Emissions from increasing cremations in the EU represent a significant source of mercury pollution. Over 1000 tonnes of mercury will be ‘walking’ around on peoples’ mouths in the next years even with an amalgam ban in place. Additional control measures are needed for such emissions. 

Key amendments supported by the EEB [1] were adopted, including bringing forward, by 2025, a ban on manufacture and trade of mercury-added lamps already prohibited in the EU.   

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, EEB Policy Manager said:

“We applaud ENVI’s progressive views to phase out mercury added lamps as early as 2025 putting an end to double standards, avoiding dumping of already domestically banned mercury lamps to developing countries. Such a decision will further allow important CO2 emission savings to be made contributing to the climate change fight.”

The ENVI further set the pace by requesting a study on mercury added compounds’ trade as these can contribute to the manufacturing of dangerous and illegal mercury added cosmetics globally.  

Charline Cheuvard , EEB Mercury Policy Officer added:

“We welcome the responsible choice made by the ENVI committee to request assessment of mercury compounds’ trade and further restriction on the export of mercuric azanide chloride, used in skin lightening products. Mercury compounds used in non-allowed uses, such as in cosmetics, should cease at the earliest possible.”

A study on remaining uses in the EU such as on porosimetry and lighthouses and expanding the list of mercury waste were also requested by the Committee to further consider reducing the available mercury re-circulating in the EU.   

Such a front-runner position will pave the way for global discussions at the Minamata Convention moving towards a mercury free world.    

We now call on the European Parliament (next Wednesday 17 January) and Member States (on the 18 January) to follow this line.   

END

CONTACTS

 Further information

  1. https://eeb.org/library/voting-recommendation-eeb-calls-for-a-robust-revised-eu-mercury-regulation/ 
  2. https://eeb.org/library/letter-to-spanish-and-belgian-presidencies-calling-for-revision-of-the-eu-mercury-regulation/  
  3. https://eeb.org/library/eeb-position-on-how-to-achieve-a-robust-revision-of-the-eu-mercury-regulation/  
  4. https://www.zeromercury.org/mercury-added-skin-lightening-creams-campaign/  

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