Arctic Council welcomes international mercury agreement

More than 90 countries signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury in Japan this week, aimed at establishing regulations for the use and handling of the toxic metal.

The Arctic Council is applauding an international agreement on mercury.

More than 90 countries signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury in Japan this week. It's aimed at establishing regulations for the exploitation of the heavy metal and the manufacturing of products that use it.

The agreement was signed in the town of Minamata, a community that's no stranger to mercury.

In the 1950s, an outbreak of mercury poisoning there illustrated just how dangerous and toxic it can be to human health and all parts of the ecosystem.

In a news release, the Arctic Council says its scientific research and activism helped inform the negotiation process for the convention.

Among other documents, a Council committee produced an assessment in 2011 called "Mercury in the Arctic". The Arctic Council believes the agreement will help identify, control and clean up mercury from numerous sources. It's slotted to come into effect in 2016.

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