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China to curb mercury pollution as global pact takes effect

Updated: Aug 16,2017 7:10 PM     Xinhua

BEIJING — China will take measures to reduce mercury pollution as an international anti-mercury treaty entered into force on Aug 16, according to an official statement.

China will ban the exploitation of new mercury mines from Aug 16, and will phase out existing mines by Aug 16, 2032, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said in a statement.

China will also cut mercury use in a number of products and processes, including banning mercury thermometers and sphygmomanometers from 2026.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty adopted in 2013 to protect the environment from the adverse effect of mercury.

China was among the first to sign the convention, named after Minamata, Japan, where the release of mercury into industrial wastewater poisoned thousands of people. It recognizes the substantial lessons learned and the need to prevent such events in the future.

According to Zhao Yingmin, vice minister of environmental protection, while mercury has broad uses in various fields, emission into the environment has severe health implications.

China produces and uses a lot of mercury, and it will be a tough task to fulfill the anti-mercury pollution commitment, Zhao said.

Seeking alternatives for mercury products and mercury-free or low-mercury technology will be a high priority, said Zhao.

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