Latin America: Mercury emissions remains serious problem

Posted on April 17, 2014 • Filed under: Ecuador, Enviromental Issues, Latin America Health, Latin America News

IPS reported Latin America is not taking the new global agreement to limit mercury emissions seriously: the hazardous metal is still widely used and smuggled in artisanal gold mining and is released by the fossil fuel industry. After the European Union banned exports of mercury in 2011 and the United States did so in 2013, trade in the metal shot up in the region. “Mexico’s exports have tripled in the last few years,” Ibrahima Sow, an environmental specialist in the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Climate Change and Chemicals Team, told Tierramérica. “And activities like the extraction of gold from recycled electronic goods are on the rise.” “It is hard to quantify the illegal imports,” Colombia’s deputy minister of the environment and sustainable development, Pablo Vieira, told Tierramérica. “Everyone knows that artisanal and small-scale mining uses smuggled mercury, mainly coming in from Peru and Ecuador, although hard data is not available.” According to Colombia’s authorities, the mercury is smuggled through the jungle in the country’s remote border zones. Mercury Watch, an international alliance which keeps a global database, estimated Latin America’s mercury emissions at 526 tonnes in 2010, with Colombia in the lead, accounting for 180 tonnes. Read Article


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