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Mercury Poisoning Happens Every Day In Africa

Mercury Poisoning Happens Every Day In Africa

Mercury Environment Poisoning, Minamata Convention on Mercury
Exposure to mercury even in small amounts may cause serious health problems as in the case of Minamata disease.

Mining for gold in Mali Africa

Mercury Poisoning Happens Every Day In Africa


Explore and Understand Africa Through Her Food and Culture




Mercury is a chemical element with symbol Hg and atomic number 80. Mercury is one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern.

What is the Minamata Convention on Mercury?


Minamata disease is a debilitating neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning. The serious health and environmental effects resulting from the mercury pollution, and the need to ensure proper management of mercury gave birth to the Minamata Convention on Mercury. 

The objective of the Minamata Convention on Mercury is to protect the human health and the environment and releases of mercury and mercury compounds into the ground, air and water environment.

Minamata Convention on Mercury addresses the health concerns, especially in developing countries, resulting from exposure to mercury of vulnerable populations, especially women, children, and, through them, future generations and contamination of the environment for decades.

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining


Mercury occurs naturally in the earth's crust and is released into the environment from volcanic activity, weathering of rocks and human activity. Human activity is the main cause of mercury releases as a result of mining for mercury, gold and other metals and many other factors.

Artisanal and Small-scale mining (ASM) refers to unlawful mining in Africa and other countries by miners using low technology or minimal mining machinery usually under dangerous conditions. The Minamata Convention on Mercury action plan on Artisanal and small-scale gold mining is to eliminate:

1.     Whole ore amalgamation
2.     Open burning of amalgam or processed amalgam
3.     Burning of amalgam in residential areas
4.     Cyanide leaching in sediment, ore or tailings to which mercury has been added without first removing the mercury

Madagascar small scale gold mining

In addition to facilitating the formalization or regulation of the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector, keeping statistics on the quantities of mercury used and the practices employed in artisanal and small-scale gold mining and processing within its territory, creating a public health policy on the exposure of artisanal and small-scale gold miners and their communities to mercury.

Since ASM's are unlicensed, they are not regulated and health and safety issues, pollution to the environment, and child labor are chief concerns. Accidents and injuries from mining in unsafe tunnels, unprotected open pits and use of explosives lead to severe and fatal accidents. Chemical exposure and limited access to safety equipment are a day-to-day risk for poor miners.


Mining Africa's Health


Minamata Convention on Mercury was held in Kumamoto, Japan on October 10, 2013 and on August 16, 2017, entered into force. The following African Countries have signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury:


Mining Africa's Health The Minamata Convention on Mercury

African Country
Signature Date
Algeria
No data
Angola
11 Oct 2013 
Benin
10 Oct 2013 
Botswana
No data
Burkina Faso
10 Oct 2013 
Burundi
14 Feb 2014 
Cameroon
24 Sep 2014 
Central African Republic
10 Oct 2013 
Chad
25 Sep 2014 
Congo
 8 Oct 2014 
Côte d'Ivoire
10 Oct 2013 
Democratic Republic of the Congo
No data
Djibouti
10 Oct 2013 
Egypt
No data
Equatorial Guinea
No data
Eritrea
No data
Ethiopia
10 Oct 2013 
Gabon
30 Jun 2014 
Gambia
10 Oct 2013 
Ghana
24 Sep 2014 
Guinea
25 Nov 2013 
Guinea-Bissau
24 Sep 2014 
Kenya
10 Oct 2013 
Lesotho
No data
Liberia
24 Sep 2014 
Libya
10 Oct 2013 
Madagascar
10 Oct 2013 
Malawi
10 Oct 2013 
Mali
10 Oct 2013 
Mauritania
11 Oct 2013 
Mauritius
10 Oct 2013 
Morocco
 6 Jun 2014 
Mozambique
10 Oct 2013 
Namibia
No data
Niger
10 Oct 2013 
Nigeria
10 Oct 2013 
Republic of Cabo Verde
No data
Rwanda
No data
Sao Tome and Principe
No data
Senegal
11 Oct 2013 
Seychelles
27 May 2014 
Sierra Leone
12 Aug 2014 
Somalia
No data
South Africa
10 Oct 2013 
South Sudan
No data
Sudan
24 Sep 2014 
Swaziland
No data
Togo
10 Oct 2013 
Tunisia
10 Oct 2013 
Uganda
10 Oct 2013 
United Republic of Tanzania
10 Oct 2013 
Zambia
10 Oct 2013 
Zimbabwe
11 Oct 2013 


Did you know?
Mercury is contained in many products, including batteries, thermometers and barometers, electric switches and relays in equipment Lamps including some types of light bulbs, dental amalgam for dental fillings, skin-lightening products and other cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

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