Urge the United Nations to Educate Workers About Mercury-Related Health Issues

Target: US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice

Goal: To include a clause pertaining to mercury-related health issues in an international mercury regulation treaty.

The members of the United Nations must add an article concerning health to an international treaty regarding the safe handling of mercury. The treaty needs to include this clause so that important health strategies may be spread to areas where the necessary information regarding proper handling of mercury may be lacking. Prevention measures should include awareness programs on the dangers of mercury, training on mercury-related health conditions for local aid workers and the gathering of data among populations currently affected by mercury poisoning. Gold mines in Mali and Tanzania are areas of particular concern. In these mines, children as young as 11 have been used to mix mercury with their bare hands into ground ore in order to extract the gold. Health workers in these countries do not have any training on how to diagnose or treat mercury-related illnesses.

It is shocking that there is currently no article concerning health issues regarding mercury. Many governments involved in the treaty’s creation, including the United States and Canada, contend that this bill is about the environment and that health initiatives in affected countries would be too expensive. Addressing the health impact of mercury through environmental measures is irresponsible as there are undoubtedly cases of poisoning that will continue to surface over many years. Japan, an international leader that has dealt with mercury poisoning on a massive scale in the Minamata bay, should stand up and lead the way toward implementing health initiatives in countries like Mali and Tanzania. At least 13 million small-scale gold miners in Asia, Africa and Latin America work with mercury daily, using it to extract gold from ore. The health affects are disabling.

The international community has a chance to slow the number of mercury poisoning cases across the globe. It is irresponsible not to include health provisions to the treaty, as it would leave millions of suffering people across the globe. Sign this petition and call on the international community to amend the mercury treaty in 2013.


Dear Ambassador Susan Rice,

The mercury treaty currently being considered by the members of your organization is dangerously incomplete. There are at least 13 million gold miners across the globe that use mercury daily and the medical staff that are available to them are not prepared to diagnose or treat the horrible disease that is caused by contact with mercury. By not including a health article in the treaty that discusses the affects of mercury on a person, you are putting many lives at risk of being permanently ruined.

The international community has a chance to slow the number of mercury cases across the globe and to help those who are already affected. I ask that you address the health impacts directly and amend the international mercury treaty to reflect that.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit:  Ignacio Conejo via Flickr

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76 Signatures

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