International Actions for Reducing Mercury Emissions and Use
The U.S. engages international partners, multilaterally and bilaterally, to address key mercury issues including data collection and inventory development, source characterization, and best practices for emissions and use reduction. Recent actions are described below. You can find additional information on the International Resources section of the Related Links page of this site.
As called for by United Nations Environment Programme Governing Council Decision 23/9 IV of February 2005, the United States has been a catalyst in a number of global mercury partnerships designed to achieve important early reductions in use and emissions of mercury globally. Descriptions of these partnerships can be found at http://www.chem.unep.ch/mercury/partnerships/.
EPA has provided expertise to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)'s Global Mercury Project's small-scale gold (artisanal) mining project, which focuses on best management practices to reduce occupational exposures, emissions and mercury use. The U.S. Government is also working with the government of Brazil and other South American governments to support a workshop on mercury-related issues arising from artisanal mining in the Amazon.
The U.S. Mercury Emission Inventory for the Arctic Council Action Plan (PDF) (10 pp., 42 KB, About PDF) The U.S. has strengthened capacity building and technical cooperation programs implemented in the context of the Arctic Council Action Plan (ACAP) and the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP). The U.S. provides support for the development of Russia's mercury action plan and inventory, as well as support for a regional Arctic inventory and emissions reductions projects.
The U.S. has developed bilateral mercury cooperation programs to foster assessment and sector specific improvements in China and India.
The U.S. has developed international cooperation programs for ambient and trends monitoring for specific facilities and air transport pathways, including modeling and analytical work using these data.
The U.S. provided $1.3 million to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Mercury Programin 2003 and 2004, and detailed for two years an EPA employee with experience in atmospheric emissions of mercury to support the Program.
Binational Toxics Strategy - The Canada-United States Strategy for the Virtual Elimination of Persistent Toxic Substances in the Great Lakes Basin, known as the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy, provides a framework for actions to reduce or eliminate mercury and other persistent toxic substances from the Great Lakes Basin.
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution Protocol on Heavy Metals- The Executive Body of the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution adopted the Protocol on Heavy Metals in June 1998, under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. The U.S. is a party to this legally-binding agreement which went into effect in December 2003. The Protocol targets three heavy metals: cadmium, lead and mercury and aims to cut emissions from industrial sources (iron and steel industry, non-ferrous metal industry), combustion processes (power generation, road transport) and waste incineration. The Protocol
- includes strict limit values and deadlines for emissions for new and existing stationary sources and suggests Best Available Techniques (BAT) for these sources.
- contains measures to lower heavy metal emissions from products, such as leaded gasoline and mercury in batteries, through the mandatory phase-out of leaded gasoline and mandatory mercury concentration limits for certain types of batteries.
- recommends that parties take precautionary and product management measures for other mercury-containing products.
Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) North American Regional Action Plan for Mercury- Under the auspices of the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico developed a North American Regional Action Plan (NARAP) on Mercury (Phase II- March 2000). The goal of this Plan is to reduce man-made mercury releases to the North American environment through international and national initiatives. The Mercury NARAP contains provisions regarding risk management approaches to address mercury air emissions; processes, operations, and products; and waste management; as well as research, monitoring, modeling, inventories; and communication activities.
In 1998, the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG/ECP) adopted in 1998 a Regional Mercury Action Plan (PDF) (19 pp, 48 K, PDF) for the Northeast U.S. and Eastern Canada. This plan establishes a long term regional goal of virtually eliminating the discharge of mercury from human sources into the environment. It also establishes goals of 50% reduction of mercury emissions by 2003 (which has been met) and 75% reduction by 2010. The plan identifies more than 40 actions to address mercury in the environment including: reduction of mercury emissions; source reduction and safe waste management; outreach and education; and research, analysis and strategic monitoring.
Environment Canada's Mercury and the Environment Web site- What Canada is doing about mercury in the environment.