By: Seye Joseph @seyetweets
Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development (SRADev Nigeria), a professional and non-governmental think-tank organisation that is actively involved in research-based advocacy and raising awareness on issues of chemical management in Nigeria has collaborated with the key Ministries and stakeholders to undertake data gathering report on mercury products status to facilitate and strengthen the national coordinating mechanisms within the chemicals management infrastructure for efficient ratification and effective take off of Mercury Convention implementation in Nigeria.
The Executive Director of the organisation, Leslie Adogame made this known at a press briefing in Lagos where he mentioned that mercury and its compounds are toxic substances which have adverse effects on human health and the environment.
“Despite the risks due to mercury, Nigerians have very low awareness of this toxic substance which is used in soap; cosmetics; antiseptics; paints; pesticides; pharmaceutical products; human and veterinary products; and even in dental fixtures. Very little statistics is available on a national scale about mercury use and its emissions”
“Outdated mercury process and production equipment are still dumped into the country. The envisaged challenges of Mercury Treaty implementation in Nigeria calls for participation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to effectively catalyse, complement and reinforce government efforts to promote sound chemicals management” he said
In February 2009, the UNEP Governing Council (UNEP) formed Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) to start developing a global legally binding instrument on mercury to start formal deliberations in June 2010, leading to a legally binding treaty on mercury on or before February 2013.
The text for the future Minamata Convention on Mercury was agreed to on 19 January 2013 in Geneva. The diplomatic conference where the treaty was adopted and opened for signature took place in Japan in October 2013 to ratify and implement the Mercury Treaty nationally. This legally binding instrument would help control the use and handling of mercury and mercury compounds.
“It will help prevent and minimize dumping to developing countries in the guise of exports of factory equipment used in manufacturing processes of mercury. A legally binding instrument on Mercury would benefit Nigeria more if Nigerians would agree on common position on specific issues of relevance to its ratification and implementation” Adogame said.
Adogame revealed that mercury has been ranked third in the list of toxic substances (ATSDR 2012). Being assessed as a toxic substance to ecosystem, wildlife and human, it affects nervous system and functioning of brain, especially of children. The toxic effects on human, wildlife and the ecosystems cannot be overemphasized as available in many literatures.
“Part of what we have been doing in the past six years were programs and projects towards raising awareness on the need to eliminate mercury use in products and formally launched a national campaign in 2010.
“This project focus is informed by the need to contribute to the paucity of information and data through quantitative analysis using Lumex mercury air sampler.
He cited waste dumpsites, incinerator, waste electrical and electronic equipment, and dental amalgam in dental clinic as the channels where mercury can be contacted.
Adogame revealed further that waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is a diverse waste set that can have negative environment impact when they are manufactured, used, when they reach the end of their life and discarded.
“Nigeria and other African countries like Ghana are known to be at the receiving end of more of the toxic EEE ‘dumped’ onto its markets mainly due to less developed policy and regulations”
He mentioned Basel Action Network (BAN 2005) study that was done in conjunction with Basel Convention Coordinating Centre for the African Region (BCRCC) Nigeria,
“Nigeria imports about 500,000 used computers annually through the Lagos port alone. Only 25% of the imports are functional while the remaining 75% are junks. 45% of electronic shipments from all over the world enter Lagos, and most of the imported items that are tested as non-functional get discarded almost immediately as e-waste”.
“Also survey revealed that about 30 million cell phones in use in Nigeria, more than 20 million older models and non-functional. To date, such imports have not for the most part been totally” he revealed.
He also cited the negative impact dental amalgam which is also known as silver fillings can have on people.
According to him, dental amalgams has been in used for over 160 years and are widely preferred because it’s inexpensive, ease of use, best settling material and most importantly it is resin free which make it less allergic than composite fillings.
“The removal of teeth containing amalgam; unused amalgam going to solid waste; mercury emissions directly to the air; the traps, filters and other devices in dental clinics designed to remove mercury from the wastewater; and various waste disposal alternatives”
Published By: Mayowa Adeniran @mayowareports